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Constitution

Federal Judge to Texas: No, You Can't Force People to Do Useless Things

Evan Bernick | Posted 03.10.2015 | Politics
Evan Bernick

The state of Texas told Isis Brantley that she needed to spend thousands of hours taking useless classes and thousands of dollars on useless equipment before she would be permitted to teach hairbraiding at her own school. On Wednesday Judge Sam Sparks told Texas that that was unconstitutional.

Death Penalty Becomes More Rare and More Problematic

Nancy Leong | Posted 03.07.2015 | Crime
Nancy Leong

While a majority of states have abandoned the death penalty altogether, either in law or in practice, the handful of states that continue to execute prisoners do so despite a number of troubling issues relating to its implementation.

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques--Cruel and Unusual Punishment By Any Standard

Dr. Harlan K. Ullman | Posted 02.14.2015 | Politics
Dr. Harlan K. Ullman

The issue is not whether torture works or does not. I believe it does not work. But any cruel and unusual punishment is destructive to the legitimacy and credibility of American values. The Bush 43 White House should have known better.

Three Things You (And Judges) Need to Know About the Bill of Rights

Evan Bernick | Posted 02.15.2015 | Politics
Evan Bernick

This Monday, the Bill of Rights turned 223. It is an occasion for celebration and reflection. Celebration, because the Bill of Rights has proven a sturdy shield for protecting individual freedom. Reflection, because the Bill of Rights is often misunderstood, even by judges.

Stop Complaining About 'Judicial Activism'

Evan Bernick | Posted 02.10.2015 | Politics
Evan Bernick

The SCOTUS confirmation process has been dominated by extended, fruitless discussions of the supposed scourge of "judicial activism." At a time when the government is claiming unprecedented authority over our lives, we should shift the focus to the judiciary's critical role in protecting our constitutional rights.

Alaska's Enlightened Approach to Drugs and Privacy

David Morris | Posted 02.03.2015 | Politics
David Morris

Rarely do politicians or political parties offer a coherent framework for deciding when a higher level of government should preempt a lower level of government, or when individual liberty trumps state regulation. Which makes Alaska so refreshing and instructive.

365 Days to Globalize the Spirit of the 13th Amendment

Robert J. Benz | Posted 02.03.2015 | Impact
Robert J. Benz

Passing the 13th Amendment helped to reconcile inconsistencies that were forged into our founding documents about: who we are as a nation, who we are as a people and how we wished to define ourselves as individuals.

Criminal Injustice: 4 Ways Courts Can Restore Faith in the Legal System After Ferguson

Evan Bernick | Posted 01.28.2015 | Politics
Evan Bernick

As protests continue across the nation, it is worth asking what, if anything, can be done to address the perception that citizens cannot expect help from the courts when police officers are accused of unjustifiably depriving them of their liberty, property or even their lives.

Excerpts From Texas's New American History Textbook

John Blumenthal | Posted 01.25.2015 | Comedy
John Blumenthal

And so it came to pass that God persuaded the Founding Fathers that all fellas should be permitted to bear these weapons to protect theyselves from intruders and folks who wore hoodies. Thus was it written in the Constitution and it remains the holiest of all laws in this here land of ours. Amen.

Guard Reinforcements Contain Damage In Ferguson

AP | TOM FOREMAN JR. and ALAN SCHER ZAGIER | Posted 01.26.2015 | Crime

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Business owners and residents boarded up windows and cleared away debris Wednesday as Ferguson sought a tentative return to nor...

Does the UN See US "Institutionalized Discrimination" in the Wake of Ferguson?

Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey | Posted 01.25.2015 | World
Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey

The Ferguson grand jury decision not to criminally prosecute a police officer in the shooting of an unarmed young black man has reached the Geneva HQ of the UN Office of Human Rights Chief Prince Zeid, but the consequences will be felt globally and probably with indefinite impact.

An Open Letter of Apology to the United States of America

Brian Joyce | Posted 01.25.2015 | Media
Brian Joyce

The media was wrong, and the White House was right. Still, many of us in the media won't admit it. Therefore, I'd like to apologize to you. We should probably make a better effort to understand policy, before we attempt to comment on it. And we should probably also admit, once and for all, that the President was born in America.

Are the President's Actions on Immigration Legal?

Geoffrey R. Stone | Posted 01.21.2015 | Politics
Geoffrey R. Stone

Prosecutorial discretion -- the power of the executive to determine when to enforce the law -- is one of the most well-established traditions in American law. Prosecutorial discretion is, in particular, central to the enforcement of immigration law against removable noncitizens.

Change Is Coming -- It Always Does

Doug Zeigler | Posted 01.20.2015 | Politics
Doug Zeigler

Progressiveness is on the right side of history. Our country has shown time and time again that we move forward, not backwards. This country has been built from our birth on progressive and liberal principles, step by step, striving to improve.

What Grubergate Teaches Us About the Need for Judicial Engagement

Evan Bernick | Posted 01.19.2015 | Politics
Evan Bernick

Judges in every case ought to evaluate the government's arguments in a way that is sensitive to the ugly reality of legislative sausage-making rather than adopting the unwarranted assumption that we have found angels in the form of politicians and bureaucrats to govern us.

Congress Should Reject War Authorization Against Islamic State: Tell President No to Stupid War

Doug Bandow | Posted 01.17.2015 | Politics
Doug Bandow

President Barack Obama finally is obeying the law. He wants Congress to authorize military action against the Islamic State. That's what the Constitution requires.

Sixth Circuit Sets Up Supreme Court for Marriage Ruling (VIDEO)

Matt Baume | Posted 01.10.2015 | Gay Voices
Matt Baume

2014-11-10-ScreenShot20141110at11.17.18AMsmall.pngLast month the Supreme Court indicated that it didn't want to wade into the gay-marriage debate unless there were contradictory decisions amongst lower courts. Well, last week they got their wish.

Our Republic, My Republic

Christopher Phillips | Posted 01.08.2015 | Politics
Christopher Phillips

Whenever I enter the capacious main entrance of the National Constitution Center, I take pause when I pass by this quote by Teddy Roosevelt that's etched in the wall: "the people themselves must be the ultimate makers of their own Constitution."

Federal Judge: No, Congress Can't Transform Prairie Dogs Into 'Commerce'

Evan Bernick | Posted 01.07.2015 | Politics
Evan Bernick

Anytime a judge tells the federal government that it lacks the power to do something, it's newsworthy. And it happened on Wednesday, in a quirky case involving prairie dogs.

Somalia: Conundrum of an Activist

Sadia Ali Aden | Posted 01.01.2015 | World
Sadia Ali Aden

In order to genuinely win the hearts and minds of the ordinary citizens, the Somali leadership must not hasten making decisions on their behalf or self-interest by signing any treaty at a disadvantaged position with countries that have more negative record than positive.

Citizenfour and the Need for Judicial Engagement in Protecting Our Privacy

Evan Bernick | Posted 12.30.2014 | Politics
Evan Bernick

There is a remarkable moment in the new Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour that shows why we need judges to take their duty to uphold the Constitution seriously.

Judicial Abdication in Virginia: Judge Rubber-Stamps Health Care Cartel

Evan Bernick | Posted 12.29.2014 | Politics
Evan Bernick

Creating health care cartels is not merely bad policy -- it is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has held that legislation designed to further the interests of entrenched local businesses violates the Constitution.

Is Forced Quarantine for Ebola Legal?

Peter Van Buren | Posted 12.28.2014 | Politics
Peter Van Buren

Is it legal for a state (or the federal) government to detain and quarantine you against your will for health reasons? Yes. Has this sort of thing been done before? Yes. Will it be effective? No. Is it just a political ploy to garner votes from a panicked public? Oh my yes.

Why We Need a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Ron Fein | Posted 12.22.2014 | Politics
Ron Fein

Who do you think politicians are more responsive to: (A) ordinary voters, or (B) rich funders? If you chose option B, you'd be right. But we have a chance to fix that.

What Does the Illinois Constitution Do for the State?

Matthew Dietrich | Posted 12.21.2014 | Chicago
Matthew Dietrich

Questions about changing the Illinois constitution played an important part in the gubernatorial election this summer, and the topic made a comeback Oct. 21 at the candidates' third and final debate.