The proposed laws focus on a range of issues, such as email and other electronic communications, employees' use of social media, cell phone trackers and license plate readers. Should these measures pass, it would send a strong signal to other states and Congress that Americans remain concerned about protecting their privacy.
The American primary system for the nomination of presidential and congressional candidates, a system never mentioned in the constitution, has allowed populist anger to be exploited into a veto on foreign policy. Primaries, as they have evolved with the assistance of social media, have become an exercise that grants extraordinary electoral power to the dissatisfied and to the extremes.
A key word for the Institute is "participatory" democracy; it is even in their Mission Statement. And, the same can be said for the President's observations that democracy does not just happen; it requires people to participate by speaking up and out, by engaging in discourse with others, in voting, among other avenues.
That's an easy, simple truth. It can't be politicized, analyzed or reduced to anything other than what it is: reality. My brother is dead because of a gun. You can lump him into a statistic. You can break down the circumstances. But at the end of the day, what can I really say that will call you to action?
The Democratic debate on Saturday proved one thing: powerful interests that transcend the political parties have an agenda. That's the only explanation for the talking point mindlessly repeated by virtually all of the presidential candidates in both parties: "It is the first job of the president to keep Americans safe."
In recent weeks, two of the legal scholars I most admire -- Cass Sunstein and Eric Posner -- have independently called for possible limitations on the scope of First Amendment protection in light of the dangers posed to the United States by online radicalization messages directed at Americans. Although I certainly understand the concerns driving these suggestions, it is essential that we resist the temptation to restrict our most fundamental freedoms in moment of panic. This is not to say that our nation's security is not important or that preventing terrorist attacks is not a critical goal. But it is to say that this is not an appropriate way to protect ourselves.
Perhaps nothing has damaged the reputation of "substantive due process" more than that doctrine's association with Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) -- the infamous decision holding that Congress lacked the power to ban slavery in federal territories and blacks had no rights under the Constitution that whites were bound to respect.