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September 29, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to determine the constitutionality of a federal trademark statute that allows the government to reject trademark applications for names that might be offensive to certain persons or groups such as “The Slants,” an Asian-American dance rock band, whose trademark application was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) on the grounds that the trademark might disparage or offend persons of Asian heritage (even though the applicant himself is of Asian heritage).

September 28, 2016

Challenging the Transportations Security Administration’s (TSA) airport screening protocols as ineffective, invasive, unlawful and unhealthy, The Rutherford Institute has asked a federal court to strike down the agency’s use of whole body scanners, which have been likened to virtual strip searches.

September 23, 2016

Warning that the use of military equipment by civilian police often begets unnecessarily aggressive tactics and over-enforcement, a national bipartisan coalition including constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead is calling on the Obama administration to demilitarize America’s police forces. The White House estimates that federal programs directly or indirectly provided $18 billion in military equipment to state, local and tribal police between 2009 and 2014, much of it with little oversight on who was receiving the gear or follow-up on how it was being used.

September 22, 2016

The Rutherford Institute, working in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, has asked a federal appeals court to reinstate a lawsuit filed on behalf of Virginia death-row inmates held in “dehumanizing” conditions of isolation. In appealing to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the two civil liberties organizations argue that tactical policy changes adopted by the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) in order to sidestep court-mandated legal obligations (the practice of “tactical mooting”) leave prisoners at greater risk of having harsh conditions re-imposed upon them.

September 07, 2016

Citing a lack of evidence, federal prosecutors have dismissed the government’s conspiracy charge against radio shock jock Pete Santilli, a new media journalist who was arrested and charged in connection with his reporting on the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon. The dismissal came on the eve of Santilli’s trial. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute advised Santilli’s court-appointed attorney, Thomas Coan, on the First Amendment protections for Santilli’s activities as a journalist.

September 01, 2016

Insisting that the government can dictate where people can engage in religious activity, the Department of Justice is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit, Payden-Travers v. Talkin, filed by attorneys for The Rutherford Institute challenging a 2013 regulation which broadly prohibits expressive activity in the plaza fronting the U.S. Supreme Court’s building.

August 26, 2016

A federal appeals court has upheld New York City’s program of warrantless and continuous GPS surveillance of taxi drivers, ruling that drivers are not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s bar on unreasonable searches and seizures when on the job. The Rutherford Institute appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of taxi drivers who were being forced by government officials to attach GPS tracking devices to their taxis.

August 18, 2016

In the first of what will be an ongoing series of Constitutional Q&As, The Rutherford Institute has issued guidelines on the rights, legalities and restrictions of write-in voting for those interested in casting a write-in vote for president this November.

August 12, 2016

The Rutherford Institute has come to the aid of a pro-life protester who was cited for violating a noise ordinance banning sounds that annoy or disturb. In coming to the defense of activist Toby Harmon, Rutherford Institute attorneys plan to argue that the City of Norman, Oklahoma’s “noise disturbance” ordinance is too vague and overbroad in violation of the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of expression. If convicted, Harmon faces a sentence of 60 days in jail and a $750 fine.

July 14, 2016

In recognition of The Rutherford Institute’s successful efforts to defend the First Amendment rights of a street musician who was barred from playing at Washington Metro stations, a federal court has ordered government officials to pay more than $50,000 in attorneys’ fees arising from the lawsuit. Although street musician Alex Young did not seek any monetary damages in the lawsuit, the court’s ruling compensates Rutherford Institute attorneys for their work on the case, which was undertaken pro bono.

June 30, 2016

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have asked a federal court not to grant immunity from wrongdoing to Virginia police whose so-called “welfare check” on a 58-year-old man resulted in a two-hour, SWAT team-style raid on the man’s truck and a 72-hour mental health hold.

June 21, 2016

In a 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff, the U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for police to stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

June 08, 2016

Weighing in on a controversial “revenge porn” bill before the Rhode Island  General Assembly, The Rutherford Institute has joined with other civil liberties groups in warning legislators that the proposed law, H-7537, is so overly broad and vague that it could do more harm than good by criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activities aimed at holding government officials accountable for wrongdoing. 

June 02, 2016

Warning against efforts by the FBI and Justice Department to acquire near-limitless power and control over biometric information collected on law-abiding individuals, millions of whom have never been accused of a crime, The Rutherford Institute has denounced an attempt to exempt the government’s massive biometric database from a federal law aimed at protecting Americans’ privacy. 

May 18, 2016

Spurred on by a lawsuit filed by attorneys for The Rutherford Institute, the Oklahoma State Legislature is poised to enact a law that protects individuals from being forced to violate their religious beliefs by submitting to a biometric photograph as a condition of obtaining a driver’s license.

May 16, 2016

In a devastating blow to the First Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a 60-year-old ban on expressive activity on the Supreme Court plaza. The Court’s ruling comes in response to an appeal filed by The Rutherford Institute in Hodge v. Talkin, which challenged a federal statute criminalizing expressive First Amendment activity on the Supreme Court plaza.

May 10, 2016

A federal appeals court has given attorneys for The Rutherford Institute the green light to move forward with a lawsuit against Virginia police officers on behalf of a 37-year-old disabled man who went to a police station to report the theft of his cable services and ended up being strip searched, handcuffed to a table, diagnosed as having “mental health issues,” and involuntarily detained for six days for a mental-health evaluation with no access to family and friends, allegedly because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait.

May 09, 2016

Rejecting as patently false the Obama administration’s contention that its mass surveillance program has inflicted no harm on American citizens, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute, ACLU, Wikipedia, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have asked a federal appeals court to reinstate a First and Fourth Amendment lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. Department of Justice and their directors.

May 05, 2016

The Rutherford Institute has denounced a stealth effort by the Department of Justice to give law enforcement and intelligence agencies the power to remotely hack into personal computers and mobile devices, implant malicious software on computers, and rummage through the personal contents of those computers in the absence of criminal activity by the devices’ owners.

May 03, 2016

The Rutherford Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) have joined forces to continue to push back against the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) use of whole body scanners, which have been likened to virtual strip searches, in the nation’s airports.