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February 09, 2021

At a time when individuals who question COVID-19 protocols are finding themselves increasingly silenced or censored on social media and elsewhere, The Rutherford Institute has issued a strong warning to government officials that the First Amendment prohibits them from censoring individuals who take part in legislative public comment sessions based on the content of their speech. 

February 04, 2021

Citing the need to rein in the surveillance state, The Rutherford Institute is calling on the Maryland General Assembly to broadly forbid the police from carrying out persistent, citywide aerial surveillance on the citizenry except in specific, constitutionally prescribed circumstances.

January 29, 2021

In an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court in Caniglia v. Strom, The Rutherford Institute has issued a warning over police attempting to carry out warrantless home invasions in order to seize lawfully-owned guns under the pretext of their so-called “community caretaking” duties.

January 21, 2021

Denouncing a politically correct “cancel culture” that punishes anyone who voices opinions that challenge prevailing views, The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a firefighter who was fired for condemning the vandalism of a public monument on social media. 

January 15, 2021

In an amicus brief filed in Birt v. United States, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that individuals subjected to discriminatory drug laws that disproportionately, by a 100-1 ratio, deliver harsher prison sentences to African-Americans can have their sentences reconsidered in a fairer light. 

January 08, 2021

Coming to the defense of a military cadet raped while enrolled at West Point Military Academy, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the right of military servicemembers to sue the government over injuries suffered as a result of government negligence in an amicus brief filed in Jane Doe v. United States.

December 30, 2020

Pushing back against efforts to dismantle the constitutional right to be secure in one’s home from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents, The Rutherford Institute is challenging an attempt by police to justify carrying out a warrantless home invasion of a man who honked his horn several times and had his music turned up while driving. 

December 17, 2020

In an 8-0 ruling in Tanzin v. Tanvir that affirms the right of religious individuals to not be persecuted for their faith, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of three men who were allegedly placed on a “no fly” list as retaliation for refusing to act as FBI informants within their religious communities.

December 10, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to keep the government from meddling in church affairs. In weighing in before the Court in Episcopal Church v. The Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth, Rutherford Institute attorneys warn against a trend in which state courts have attempted to second-guess church decisions on inherently religious matters by relying on so-called “neutral principles.”

December 02, 2020

Pushing back against efforts to extend the government’s spying powers, The Rutherford Institute has asked a federal appeals court to end Baltimore’s use of aerial surveillance to continuously track and monitor the activities of citizens throughout the city.

November 19, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a North Carolina student who was suspended from school and reported to police for possessing a look-alike weapon and making a threat after he displayed a toy gun during a virtual class as part of a Halloween assignment to “look scary.”

November 13, 2020

In a victory for religious liberty, The Rutherford Institute has reached a settlement with the State of Delaware over a First Amendment lawsuit challenging discriminatory COVID-19 restrictions that applied to churches but not big-box shopping stores, liquor stores, and guns shops. Under the settlement, Delaware promises not to reissue rules targeting churches that limit the number of persons who can worship, the number of services that can be held, and how churches conduct rituals such as baptism and communion.  The lawsuit, Rev. Dr. Christopher Allen Bullock v. Gov. John C. Carney, was filed on behalf of Rev. Bullock, the founder and pastor for Canaan Baptist Church near New Castle, Del., who believes the state’s restrictions overstepped the wall of separation between church and state. 

October 29, 2020

Fighting back against the “policing for profit” forfeiture system that unfairly enriches police departments at the expense of ordinary citizens, The Rutherford Institute has come to the aid of a Michigan man whose vehicle was taken by police without a warrant and kept for three years without any opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of the seizure.  In an amicus curiae brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Nichols v. Wayne County, Rutherford Institute attorneys assert that this case is but one of many nationwide showing the injustice that results from civil asset forfeiture laws that incentivize prolonged detention of seized property in the absence of evidence that the property owner had broken any laws. In 2017 alone, Wayne County police reportedly seized vehicles from 380 people who were never charged with criminal activity.

October 22, 2020

In a blow to privacy that extends the government’s authority to create a web of surveillance, the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that state and local police are free to use Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) to collect data about the travel and movement of persons throughout the state. Denouncing the fact that Americans cannot even drive their cars without being tracked by the government, The Rutherford Institute had asked the Court to rule in Fairfax County Police Department v. Neal that the use of ALPRs violated a Virginia law restricting government collection of personal information. Mounted next to traffic lights or on police cars, ALPRs  photograph over 1,800 license tag numbers per minute, take a picture of every passing license tag number and store the tag number and the date, time, and location of the picture in a searchable database. The data is then shared with law enforcement, fusion centers and private companies and used to track the movements of persons in their cars. There are reportedly tens of thousands of these license plate readers now in operation throughout the country. It is estimated that over 99% of the people being unnecessarily surveilled are entirely innocent.

October 15, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has again come to the aid of a Georgia parent who has been barred from attending her son’s high school football games unless she compromises her religious beliefs and complies with the school district’s mask requirement for spectators.

October 02, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has weighed in before the U.S. Supreme Court on a case in which campus police, citing “disorderly conduct,” prevented a college student from speaking about his Christian faith and distributing religious literature from a small free speech zone on a 260-acre campus. In an amicus brief filed in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, Rutherford Institute attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to hold officials at Georgia Gwinnett College liable for violating college student Chike Uzuegbunam’s free speech rights and ensure that campus policies adhere to the First Amendment.

September 23, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has come to the aid of a Georgia mother who has been barred from attending her son’s high school football games unless she compromises her religious beliefs and complies with the school district’s mask requirement for spectators. In a letter to the superintendent of Fulton County (Ga.) Schools (FCS), Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that Tara Barnett’s request to attend her son’s football games without a face covering while social distancing from other spectators qualifies for a religious accommodation under Governor Kemp’s executive orders, which requires masks to be worn when social distancing is not possible. All spectators at FCS athletic events are required to social distance by sitting in designated areas six feet apart from other spectators unless sitting with family. 

September 17, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has issued a precautionary “opt out” letter as a means by which families whose children are taking part in remote learning / virtual classes might assert their Fourth Amendment privacy rights and guard against intrusive government surveillance posed by remote learning technologies. The Institute released its model “Parental Reservation of Rights – Remote Learning Surveillance” letter in the wake of a growing number of incidents in which students have been suspended and reported to police by school officials for having toy guns nearby while taking part in virtual schooling.

September 16, 2020

Seeking to ensure that Delaware does not reinstitute strident COVID-19 restrictions imposed at the outset of the pandemic, The Rutherford Institute is asking a federal court to reject the governor’s motion to dismiss a First Amendment lawsuit safeguarding churches from being unfairly discriminated against in their efforts to worship in accordance with their religious beliefs. Delaware's COVID-19 restrictions included a ban on gatherings that was specifically applicable to churches and “strongly encouraged” houses of worship to transition to remote services by video or telephone. However, the ban on gatherings contained numerous exceptions, allowing big-box shopping stores, liquor stores, and guns shops to be open without having to abide by a 10-person restriction. 

September 11, 2020

Responding to numerous reports of low-flying aircraft harassing property owners throughout Central Virginia in August 2020, The Rutherford Institute has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Virginia State Police (VSP) seeking information about its aerial surveillance program in order to determine whether the state is complying with Fourth Amendment restrictions on the use of aircraft to spy upon citizens. While the Fourth Amendment allows law enforcement to conduct naked-eye observations of private property during ordinary flyovers, the Constitution forbids unusually low flyovers or the use of high-tech sight-enhancing equipment for aerial searches.  

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