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October 13, 2016
Rutherford Institute Defends First Amendment Rights of Federal Employee Prohibited From Displaying Pro-Trump Political Sign on His Personal Vehicle

The Rutherford Institute is defending the First Amendment rights of a federal defense employee who was ordered to remove pro-Trump political signs from the personal vehicles he uses to commute to work. In coming to Mike Sienda’s defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys assert that the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) infringed on the Army veteran’s right to fully participate in the nation’s political process when it ordered him to remove the pro-Trump/Pence signs under a federal law, the Hatch Act, that limits the political activities of federal employees.

October 07, 2016
First Amendment Victory: Prosecutors Dismiss Charge Against Pro-Life Protester Cited for Violating Ordinance Banning "Loud or Unusual" Sounds

On the eve of a trial to determine whether a pro-life protester should be convicted, jailed 60 days and fined $750 for violating an Oklahoma ordinance that makes it a crime to play or create “loud and unusual sounds,” prosecutors dismissed their case against activist Toby Harmon. The Rutherford Institute came to Harmon’s defense after he was charged with disturbing the peace in connection with a pro-life demonstration outside a Norman abortion clinic last March. The dismissal came after Rutherford Institute attorneys filed a brief arguing that the local ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and does not provide fair warning of prohibited conduct or explicit standards for enforcement.

October 06, 2016
Victory: Virginia Police Agree to Settle Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Strip Search & Detention of Disabled Man Based on Slurred Speech, Unsteady Gait

Virginia police officials have agreed to settle a lawsuit over the wrongful arrest, strip search and detention of a disabled man based on his slurred speech and unsteady gait. The Fourth Amendment lawsuit was filed by attorneys for The Rutherford Institute on behalf of 37-year-old Gordon Goines, a resident of Waynesboro, Va., who suffers from a neurological condition similar to multiple sclerosis. Goines was seized by Waynesboro, Va., police officers, strip searched, handcuffed to a table, diagnosed as having “mental health issues,” and subsequently locked up for five days in a mental health facility against his will and with no access to family and friends.

September 29, 2016
U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear First Amendment Case Over Government’s Trademark Denial of Names that Might Cause Offense (‘The Slants’ and ‘Redskins’)

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 TSA's Screening Protocols as Ineffective, Invasive, Unlawful and Unhealthy, Rutherford Institute Asks Court to Prohibit Virtual Strip Searches

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
Rutherford Institute Joins with National Bipartisan Coalition to Call on Obama Administration to Demilitarize America’s Police Forces

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
Rutherford Institute Calls Foul on Virginia Prison Officials for Subjecting Inmates to Dehumanizing Isolation & Avoiding Accountability

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
Government Dismisses Conspiracy Charge Against Radio Shock Jock Pete Santilli, Arrested for First Amendment Activities Relating to Oregon Standoff

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
Justice Dept. Insists Government Can Dictate Where People Can Engage in Religious Activity, Asks Court to Dismiss RFRA Lawsuit Over SCOTUS Plaza

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
Federal Court Green Lights NYC's Warrantless GPS Surveillance of Taxi Drivers, Denying Them Fourth Amendment Protections While on the Job

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
Rutherford Institute Issues Constitutional Guidelines on the Rights, Legalities & Restrictions of Write-In Voting

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
Rutherford Institute Comes to the Defense of a Pro-Life Protester Cited for Violating Overly Vague Noise Ordinance Banning Sounds that Annoy or Disturb

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
VICTORY: Court Awards $50,000 to Rutherford Institute Attorneys for Their Defense of 'Busker' Street Musician's Right to Perform at DC Metro Stations

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
Rutherford Institute Asks Court Not to Grant Immunity to Police Who Carried out 'Welfare Check' With a 2-Hour, SWAT-Style Raid, Grenade & Wrongful Arrest

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
U.S. Supreme Court Guts Fourth Amendment, Sanctions Police Fishing Expeditions, Giving Police More Leeway to Stop, Arrest and Search Citizens

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
Rutherford Institute Warns Rhode Island Against Unconstitutionally Vague 'Revenge Porn' Law That Could Do More Harm Than Good

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
TRI Denounces Efforts to Exempt Government NGI Biometric Database From Privacy Laws Aimed at Protecting Citizens

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
Victory: Oklahoma Moves to Enact Law Accommodating Religious Objections to Biometric Photo Requirement on Drivers’ Licenses

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.

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