iOS app Android app

John W. Whitehead
GET UPDATES FROM John W. Whitehead
John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead’s aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and accomplishments, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom. His concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization in Charlottesville, Va. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson. His thought-provoking commentaries call people to action and address a wide range of contemporary issues from faith to politics and television to constitutional rights. He is also a frequent commentator on a variety of issues in the national media. Whitehead's book A Government of Wolves is available now, online and in stores. Please visit On Target to view Whitehead's weekly video commentaries. He also blogs daily about the emerging police state at

Entries by John W. Whitehead

The Christmas Hope: A To-Do List for a Better World

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2014 | 12:09 PM

As a child, my Christmas wish list came right out of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue--toys, board games, bikes, action figures, etc. My parents, like so many in their day, belonged to the working-class poor, so while I never lacked for the necessities of life, many of the items on...

Read Post

The Game Is Rigged: Why Americans Keep Losing to the Police State

(1) Comments | Posted December 11, 2014 | 12:19 PM

Being a citizen in the American police state is much like playing a game of cards against a stacked deck: you're always going to lose. The game is rigged, and "we the people" keep getting dealt the same losing hand. Even so, we stay in the game, against all odds,...

Read Post

America's Children: The Trials of Growing Up in a Police State

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 4:34 PM

After a year dominated with news of police shootings of unarmed citizens (including children), SWAT team raids gone awry, photo ops of militarized police shouldering assault rifles while perched on top of armored vehicles, and reports on how the police are using asset forfeiture laws to pad their pockets with...

Read Post

Elonis v. US: Are 'We the People' Useful Idiots in the Digital Age?

(1) Comments | Posted November 26, 2014 | 10:44 AM

Back in the heyday of the old Soviet Union, a phrase evolved to describe gullible western intellectuals who came to visit Russia and failed to notice the human and other costs of building a communist utopia. The phrase was "useful idiots" and it applied to a good many people who...
Read Post

We Are the Enemy: Is This the Lesson of Ferguson?

(1) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 1:25 PM

Should police officer Darren Wilson be held accountable for the shooting death of unarmed citizen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014?

Tasked with determining whether Wilson should stand trial for Brown's shooting, the grand jury ruled that the police officer will not face...

Read Post

The Devil's Bargain: The Illusion of a Trouble-Free Existence in the American Police State

(1) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 9:33 AM

It's no coincidence that during the same week in which the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Yates v. United States, a case in which a Florida fisherman is being threatened with 20 years' jail time for throwing fish that were too small back into the water, Florida

Read Post

Hollow Justice and Courts of Order in an Age of Government-Sanctioned Tyranny

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 6:30 PM

"The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people." -- Justice William O. Douglas

With every passing day, it becomes more apparent that we live in an age of hollow justice, with government courts, largely lacking in vision and scope, rendering...

Read Post

Shielded From Justice: The High Cost of Living in a Police State

(0) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 7:00 PM

Who pays the price for the police shootings that leave unarmed citizens dead or injured, for the SWAT team raids that leave doors splintered, homes trashed, pets murdered, and family members traumatized and injured, if not dead?

I'm not just talking about the price that must be paid in hard-earned...

Read Post

Should We Just Follow Orders? Rules of Engagement for Resisting the Police State

(0) Comments | Posted October 7, 2014 | 6:55 PM

The perils of resisting the police state grow more costly with each passing day, especially if you hope to escape with your life and property intact. The thing you must remember is that we've entered an age of militarized police in which we're no longer viewed as civilians but as...

Read Post

America's Dirty Little Secret: Sex Trafficking Is Big Business

(8) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 11:28 AM

Eighteen-year-old Hannah Graham is not the first girl to vanish in America without a trace--my hometown of Charlottesville, Va., has had five women go missing over the span of five years--and it is doubtful she will be the last. I say doubtful because America is in...

Read Post

An Unbearable and Choking Hell: The Loss of Our Freedoms in the Wake of 9/11

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 10:29 AM

Ironically, just a short week after the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we find ourselves commemorating the 227th anniversary of the ratification of our Constitution. Yet while there is much to mourn about the loss of our freedoms in the years since 9/11, there has been little...

Read Post

Is Resistance Futile? The Cost of Challenging the American Police State

(3) Comments | Posted September 10, 2014 | 10:32 AM

If you don't want to get probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed, don't say, do or even suggest anything that even hints of noncompliance. This is the new "thin blue line" over which you must not cross in interactions with police if you...

Read Post

Is America Being Turned Into a War Zone?

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 5:37 PM

"If you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you."--Sunil Dutta, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years

Life in the American police state is an endless series of don'ts...

Read Post

From Boston to Ferguson: Have We Reached a Tipping Point in the American Police State?

(0) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 4:13 PM

The difference between what happened in Boston in the wake of the Boston Marathon explosion and what is happening now in Ferguson, Missouri, is not in the government's response but in the community's response.

This is what happens when you ignore the warning signs.

This is what happens...

Read Post

The Stealing of America By the Cops, the Courts, the Corporations and Congress

(1) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 12:15 PM

Call it what you will--taxes, penalties, fees or fines--but the only word that truly describes the constant bilking of the American taxpayer by the government and its corporate partners is theft.

We're operating in a topsy-turvy Sherwood Forest where instead of Robin Hood and his merry band of thieves stealing...

Read Post

The Tyranny of the Nanny State, Where the Government Knows What's Best for You

(0) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 6:03 PM

Surveillance cameras, government agents listening in on your phone calls, reading your emails and text messages and monitoring your spending, mandatory health care, sugary soda bans, anti-bullying laws, zero tolerance policies, political correctness: these are all outward signs of a government that believes it knows what is best for you.

Read Post

What I Don't Like About Life in the American Police State

(2) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 6:47 PM

There's a lot to love about America and its people: their pioneering spirit, their entrepreneurship, their ability to think outside the box, their passion for the arts, etc. Increasingly, however, as time goes by, I find the things I don't like about living in a nation that has long since...

Read Post

238 Years Later, Would Americans Still Choose Freedom Over Slavery?

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 10:44 AM

Imagine living in a country where armed soldiers crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials. Imagine that in this very same country, you're watched all the time, and if you look even a little bit suspicious, the police stop and frisk you or pull...

Read Post

The Growing Epidemic of Police Violence: Is It Time to De-Militarize Police Forces?

(31) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 6:23 PM

How many children, old people, and law-abiding citizens have to be injured, terrorized or killed before we call a halt to the growing rash of police violence that is wracking the country? How many family pets have to be gunned down in cold blood by marauding SWAT teams before we...

Read Post

Is This How We Honor Our Military Veterans?

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2014 | 10:08 AM

Just in time for Memorial Day, we’re once again being treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians and corporations eager to go on record as being supportive of our veterans. Patriotic platitudes aside, however, America has done a deplorable job of caring for her veterans. We...

Read Post