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August 17, 2017
Rutherford Institute Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Americans' Cell Phone Records Against Warrantless Government Surveillance

WASHINGTON, DC — Denouncing the now widespread tactic employed by police departments, big and small, of spying on Americans via their cell phones with little to no ...

August 14, 2017
Statement from The Rutherford Institute Regarding Violence at the August 12 Rally in Charlottesville

There is always the temptation following a tragedy to point fingers and find someone to blame in addition to those directly responsible for committing acts of violence. It is unfortunate that those leading the charge right now have chosen to cast the blame on civil liberties organizations that were compelled to stand up for the principles of the Constitution when the government failed to do so. To suggest that the ACLU of Virginia or The Rutherford Institute or the federal district court were in any way complicit in this weekend’s violence is to do a grave disservice to every individual who has ever fought and died for the freedoms on which this nation was founded.

August 11, 2017
Court Rules in Favor of First Amendment Rights of Controversial ‘Alt Right’ Activist’s Right to Protest in Historic Park

In a resounding victory for the First Amendment right to free speech, a federal court has ruled that government officials cannot prevent activists who espouse highly controversial views from protesting in a historic downtown park, while allowing counterdemonstrators access to parks in the vicinity. In granting a temporary restraining order that orders the City of Charlottesville to allow Unite the Right to hold an August 12 rally in Emancipation Park, Judge Glen E. Conrad ruled that the disparity in treatment between the two groups suggests that the City’s decision to revoke alt right activist Jason Kessler’s permit was based on the content of his speech. Moreover, the judge concluded that the City’s justification for revoking Kessler’s permit out of a concern that many thousands would attend the rally was based on pure speculation and not evidence. 

August 10, 2017
Rutherford Institute & ACLU Sue City for Discriminating Against Controversial 'Alt Right' Views by Blocking Protesters' Access to Park

Pointing out that the First Amendment prohibits the government from blocking a protest based on its content or viewpoint, or based on how the government anticipates others will respond to the protest, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute and American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU) have filed a First and Fourteenth Amendment lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville, Va., for discriminating against protesters who espouse highly controversial views and blocking their access to a historic downtown park while allowing counterdemonstrators access to parks in the vicinity.

August 02, 2017
Rutherford Institute Asks Virginia Supreme Court to Prohibit Police From Using License Plate Readers as Surveillance Tool to Track Citizens

Denouncing the fact that Americans cannot even drive their cars without being enmeshed in the government’s web of surveillance, The Rutherford Institute has asked the Virginia Supreme Court to prohibit Virginia police from using license plate readers as surveillance tools to track drivers’ movements. Mounted next to traffic lights or on police cars, license plate readers photograph up to 3,600 license tag numbers per minute. 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. In challenging the use of license plate readers by Fairfax police, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that Fairfax County’s practice of collecting and storing license plate reader data violates a Virginia law prohibiting the government from amassing personal information about individuals, including their driving habits and location.

July 20, 2017
Victory: Virginia Supreme Court Declares That Judges Who Spoke Out on Apolitical Matter of Public Concern Did Not Violate Ethics Rules

RICHMOND, Va. —In a ruling that may give Virginia judges more leeway to engage in apolitical public discourse, the Virginia Supreme Court has dismissed a complaint ...

July 19, 2017
Rutherford Institute Calls on Glen Rock Borough to Respect First Amendment Right of Naval Officer to Play 'Taps' in Honor of Fallen Heroes

The Rutherford Institute is calling on officials in Glen Rock, Penn., to withdraw an order to an active-duty naval officer to cease and desist playing “Taps” on a sound system on his five-acre residential property or face a criminal fine of $300. 

July 18, 2017
Rutherford Institute, ACLU Et Al. Call on Police to De-Escalate Use of Force, Adopt Less Confrontational Tactics in Dealing With Protesters

The Rutherford Institute, American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Legal Aid Justice Center, and National Lawyers Guild are calling on Virginia police to de-escalate their use of force and adopt less confrontational tactics in dealing with those who choose to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble in public and engage in nonviolent protests.

July 10, 2017
First Amendment Victory: Third Circuit Rules That Citizens and Journalists Have Right to Film/Record Police in Public

In a victory for the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that citizens and journalists have a right to record police in public without fear of retaliation

July 06, 2017
Rutherford Institute Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Strike Down Minn. Law Banning Political Expression on Clothing Worn at Polling Places

Challenging a Minnesota law that bans political speech on any “badge, button, shirt, or hat” worn at election polling stations, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute, Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, and The Individual Rights Foundation are calling on the United States Supreme Court to review the case of Minnesota Majority v. Joe Mansky. Under Minnesota Statute § 211B.11, unelected and unaccountable polling judges are given the power to prevent voters from wearing any “political badges, political buttons, or other political insignia…at or about the police place on primary or election day.”

June 30, 2017
VICTORY: U.S. Supreme Court Reinstates Lawsuit Against Border Patrol Agent Who Shot Mexican Teenager in the Head Despite Lack of Threat

The U.S. Supreme Court has reinstated a lawsuit against a U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot and killed a 15-year-old Mexican boy who was playing in a culvert within feet of U.S. territory.

June 27, 2017
Rutherford Institute Warns That Police Intimidation of Local Activists Undermines First Amendment Rights and Could Result in Potential Lawsuit

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Warning that police intimidation tactics undermine First Amendment rights, alienate members of the community, and could expose the City to th...

June 20, 2017
Victory: Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court Prohibits Government from Censoring Trademarks That Might Cause Offense, i.e. Slants, Redskins

Rejecting an attempt by the government to censor trademark names that might cause offense, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Matal v. Tam that even speech that some find offensive is protected by the First Amendment. In striking down a federal trademark statute that allowed the government to reject trademark applications for names it considered insulting to persons or groups, the Court reasoned that “trademarks are private, not government, speech,” and should therefore “not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”

June 12, 2017
Federal Court Affirms Ban on Peaceful Protests on Supreme Court Plaza, Refuses to Protect Religious Freedom Rights of War, Death Penalty Protesters

A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by The Rutherford Institute on behalf of two peace activists whose ability to engage in expressive activity in the Supreme Court plaza has been restricted by a federal law and U.S. Supreme Court regulation that forbid virtually all speech on the plaza in front of the Supreme Court’s building.

June 08, 2017
Responding to Tension Over Removal of Confederate Statue, Rutherford Institute Urges Police to Exercise Restraint & Cease Aggressive Tactics

Pointing out that local police have a critical role to play in a tense, unfolding drama over the removal of Confederate statues from the City’s parks, The Rutherford Institute is warning that heavy-handed tactics, militarized equipment, excess force and an authoritarian approach to law-and-order by police could very well set the match to an increasingly volatile situation. In a letter to Police Chief Al S. Thomas, constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead is asking the City of Charlottesville (Va.) Police Department to employ less confrontational tactics in engaging with the public, especially in light of several recent incidents in which local police employed a gross display of force in carrying out routine duties. The Rutherford Institute’s letter to the Charlottesville P.D. is available at www.rutherford.org.

May 31, 2017
Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hold Police Liable for the Reckless Shooting of a Homeless Couple During a Warrantless Raid

Continuing a disturbing trend of siding with police in cases of excessive use of force, the United States Supreme Court has reversed lower court rulings that found police liable for recklessly firing 15 times into a backyard shack in which a homeless couple—Angel and Jennifer Mendez—was sheltering.

May 25, 2017
VICTORY: Federal Appeals Court Reinstates Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of the NSA's Mass Internet Surveillance Program

Ruling that the existence of the government’s mass internet surveillance program would violate the First and Fourth Amendments, a federal appeals court has given the green light to a lawsuit challenging the government’s domestic and international spying program.

May 19, 2017
Warning of First Amendment Violations, Rutherford Institute Denounces Confiscation of High School Yearbooks After Trump Quote Causes Offense

The Rutherford Institute has denounced a North Carolina high school’s decision to confiscate and ban copies of the school’s yearbook after members of the public objected to a Donald Trump quote chosen by a student to accompany her senior photo.

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