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May 02, 2022

In a unanimous ruling in Harold Shurtleff v. City of Boston, the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that the City of Boston violated the First Amendment when it refused to fly a Christian flag on a city flagpole while allowing other flags. 

April 25, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling in Hammond v. U.S. that allows police to warrantlessly track people’s location and movements through their personal cell phones, despite longstanding Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against warrantless searches and seizures and growing concerns about the government’s massive surveillance networks.

April 22, 2022

A bill passed by the Tennessee legislature to deter homelessness could put all citizens at risk of jail, police searches and a $3,000 fine for sleeping or camping outside in a public place. In providing a legal analysis of the bill’s shortcomings, The Rutherford Institute warns that the General Assembly’s attempt to criminalize homelessness will only worsen the plight of the homeless while criminalizing activities enjoyed by the general populace and threatening their freedoms, and might not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

April 21, 2022

In a 6-3 ruling in Thompson v. Clark, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that individuals have a Fourth Amendment right to hold police accountable for maliciously instituting charges and arrests without probable cause.

March 31, 2022

The Rutherford Institute is challenging a Florida city’s ordinance which resulted in two protesters being fined $3000 for displaying political messages in violation of a city ordinance banning signs, clothing and other graphic displays containing words that the city deems “indecent.”

March 25, 2022

In the debate over when and how government officials should accommodate the spiritual requests of death row inmates when pitted against prison protocols, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a death row inmate’s request to have his pastor audibly pray and lay hands on him in the execution chamber.

March 24, 2022

Coinciding with the second anniversary of the COVID-19 outbreak, The Rutherford Institute has issued an in-depth, follow-up report on the impact of the nation’s response to the pandemic on civil liberties. The 2022 report, “The Right to Be Let Alone: How to Safeguard Your Freedoms in the Face of the Government’s COVID-19 Power Grabs,” posits that the government’s response to the pandemic has become a massively intrusive, coercive and authoritarian assault on the right of individual sovereignty over one’s life, self and private property.

March 11, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a death row inmate’s request for an alternative, less painful, method of execution. Pointing out that a medical condition could result in significant pain as a result of the state of Georgia’s method of death by lethal injection, death row inmate Michael Nance has asked to be executed by a firing squad.

March 04, 2022

Do football coaches have a First Amendment right to kneel and offer up a personal, silent prayer on the field after a football game or practice? More than a decade after the U.S. Supreme Court refused The Rutherford Institute’s request to safeguard the right of a high school football coach to bow his head and take a knee during a student-led prayer, the issue is back before the courts.

February 25, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to stop police from using hidden cameras to secretly and warrantlessly record and monitor a person’s activities outside their home over an extended period of time. In refusing to hear an appeal in Travis Tuggle v. U.S., the Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling which concluded that no “search” in violation of the Fourth Amendment had occurred because the private activity recorded by the hidden surveillance cameras took place in public view.

February 17, 2022

A Virginia public school system has announced its plan to adopt what has been likened to a precrime surveillance program in order to monitor and deter social media threats, hate speech, bullying and harassment by students. Pointing out that the social media monitoring program being developed and considered by Fairfax County Public Schools (“FCPS”) raises significant concerns about government surveillance and its chilling effect on the lawful speech of students, parents, and other community members, The Rutherford Institute also warned that such a program could give rise to one-size-fits-all zero tolerance policies regarding expressive activity that is misconstrued as negative, critical or hateful.

February 10, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Sixth Amendment right of criminal defendants to confront and cross-examine witnesses. The Rutherford Institute, along with the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union, had filed an amicus brief in Hemphill v. New York, arguing that judge-made exceptions to the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause are unconstitutional.

February 03, 2022

Despite warnings from civil liberties advocates that its actions risk violating the First Amendment, a North Carolina County Board of Commissioners has unanimously adopted a policy prohibiting criticism at public meetings. The policy also threatens a criminal offense for anyone who willfully interrupts, disturbs, or disrupts a meeting and refuses to leave. 

January 20, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt a blow to police accountability and the First Amendment right of eyewitnesses to film and photograph police activity in public without fear of retaliation. In refusing to hear an appeal in Crocker v. Beatty, the Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling which granted qualified immunity to a police officer who confiscated a bystander’s cell phone, arrested him for resisting an officer, then allegedly punished him for trying to film police activity by locking him in a police car with the air conditioning turned off on a hot Florida afternoon. 

January 13, 2022

In a pair of mixed rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily halted the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate imposed on the nation’s largest employers while allowing a similar vaccine mandate to proceed for healthcare workers.

January 12, 2022

Twenty years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing people with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional, The Rutherford Institute is challenging a Georgia law that puts people with intellectual disabilities at greater risk of execution. In an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in Young v. Georgia, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that a Georgia law, which places a heavy burden on defendants in capital punishment cases to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they have an intellectual disability in order to be exempt from the death penalty, effectively nullifies their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

December 21, 2021

The Rutherford Institute is warning that Americans are being swept up into a massive digital data dragnet that does not distinguish between those who are innocent of wrongdoing, suspects, or criminals. Weighing in before the U.S. Supreme Court in Hammond v. U.S., The Rutherford Institute is challenging the government’s unconstitutional practice of warrantlessly tracking people’s location and movements through their personal cell phones in violation of the Fourth Amendment. 

December 17, 2021

The Rutherford Institute is challenging government efforts to sidestep accountability and avoid paying legal fees for constitutional violations. The issue arose in connection with a 2016 lawsuit in Stinnie v. Holcomb that sought to stop the Commonwealth of Virginia from automatically suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court fines and fees, an unconstitutional act lacking in due process which the Justice Department denounced as “unlawful practices that punish poverty at every stage of the justice system and that trap vulnerable residents in cycles of debt from court fines and fees.”

December 08, 2021

The Rutherford Institute is sounding the alarm over attempts by Boston officials to use the “government speech doctrine” to censor or discriminate against expressive activities by Christians that take place in public which may be perceived as unpopular or politically incorrect.

December 03, 2021

Attorneys affiliated with The Rutherford Institute have filed suit against the governor of Delaware in the hopes of preventing him from using his emergency powers again in the future to restrict religious gatherings and practices. The preemptive legal action in Hines v. Carney, which was brought on behalf of a Delaware pastor, comes a year after The Rutherford Institute reached a settlement with the State of Delaware over its First Amendment lawsuit challenging discriminatory COVID-19 restrictions that applied to churches but not big-box shopping stores, liquor stores, and guns shops.

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