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April 05, 2016

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute are planning to appeal the dismissal of a First Amendment lawsuit involving two street preachers who were charged with trespass and obstruction of justice and arrested for allegedly refusing police orders to cease proselytizing at a Princeton train station.

March 18, 2016

In a letter to the ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the coalition pointed out that the Federal Bureau of Investigation Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (FBI WPEA) of 2015 (S. 2390) would, if enacted, upgrade one of the least effective whistleblower policies in the U.S. Code and ensure that the nation’s top law enforcement agency is held accountable to the rule of law. The letter asserts that the lack of protections for whistleblowers within the FBI has imposed a culture of forced silence within the agency resulting in a continuous use of inaccurate lab results in federal prosecution, participation in mass surveillance of citizens, and other law enforcement failures and abuses.

March 09, 2016

Warning that representative government works best when the government’s actions are fully disclosed and citizens are allowed to speak honestly and openly to their elected representatives and other citizens without fear of retribution, The Rutherford Institute has issued guidelines for local boards, commissions and councils to consider and follow in order to best assure that the fundamental First Amendment rights of citizens are respected.

February 24, 2016

Sounding a warning over proposed legislation that would bar the public from learning the identity of persons employed as law enforcement officers, The Rutherford Institute is cautioning the Virginia General Assembly against taking an unprecedented and unjustified step toward the creation of unaccountable secret police forces. The proposed legislation, Senate Bill No. 552, would classify the names of all police officers as “personnel records,” and exempt them from mandatory disclosure under Virginia’s freedom of information law.

February 18, 2016

The Rutherford Institute and a coalition of educational, legal, human rights and media organizations, including the ACLU, Wikipedia, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, have asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate a lawsuit challenging the government’s mass surveillance programs.

February 10, 2016

In a ruling handed down in United States v. Rocky Joe Houston, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that police can spy on Americans’ front doors for ten weeks without a warrant using a camera mounted to a public utility pole. In rebutting the concern that such surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against warrantless searches, Circuit Judge John M. Rogers noted, “Although this ten-week surveillance was conducted without a warrant, the use of the pole camera did not violate Houston’s reasonable expectations of privacy because the camera recorded the same view of the farm as that enjoyed by passersby on public roads…the Fourth Amendment does not punish law enforcement for using technology to more efficiently conduct their investigations.”

January 06, 2016

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare its own ban on expressive First Amendment activity on the Supreme Court plaza unconstitutional. In asking the Court to hear the case of Hodge v. Talkin, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s decision to uphold a 60-year-old federal statute criminalizing expressive First Amendment activity on the Supreme Court plaza conflicts with the high court’s own rulings regarding expressive activity in public elsewhere.

December 08, 2015

The Rutherford Institute has filed a Fourth Amendment lawsuit against Texas police officers who, after being denied entry to a private home without a warrant, arrested the homeowner, placed him in handcuffs, threw him to the ground for refusing to allow police to search his home, and then carried out a warrantless raid on his rural home.

December 02, 2015
November 19, 2015

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have sued Virginia police and other government officials after a request to carry out a “welfare check” on a 58-year-old man resulted in a two-hour, SWAT team-style raid on the man’s truck, a wrongful arrest, and a 72-hour mental health hold. According to the complaint, police acknowledged that they had no legal basis nor probable cause for detaining Virginia resident Benjamin Burruss, who was preparing to depart on a camping/hunting trip to Montana, given that he had not threatened to harm anyone and was not mentally ill.

November 11, 2015

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have asked a federal court to reject an attempt by the City of Hampton and three of its police officers to have a First Amendment lawsuit against them dismissed. Rutherford Institute attorneys sued government officials after police officers cited, convicted and arrested two street preachers for using voice amplifiers to share their message amidst crowds gathered for the City’s Hampton Bay Days. Although the ordinance banning the use of amplifiers (which the lawsuit challenged as unconstitutional) has since been repealed, Institute attorneys point out that the city has yet to rectify its wrongful arrest of the street preachers.

November 06, 2015

The Rutherford Institute has asked a federal appeals court to reject a lower court ruling that confers sweeping power on the government to police private ideas and equates a trademark registration with a form of government-sanctioned speech. Weighing in before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Pro-Football, Inc. v. Amanda Blackhorse, et al., attorneys for The Rutherford Institute and The Cato Institute argue that a district court order allowing the government to cancel the federal trademark registration of the NFL Redskins and refuse registration to other applications it deems “offensive” constitutes blatant content and viewpoint discrimination and imposes a “hecklers veto” on speech that violates the First Amendment’s protection of even unpopular speech.

November 02, 2015

Does the Virginia DMV have the authority to cancel, revoke or repossess the Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty commemorative license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag?

October 29, 2015

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a petition with a Virginia Circuit Court challenging an order of the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) cancelling, revoking and/or demanding the return of specialty commemorative license plates issued to the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) bearing the Confederate battle flag on the grounds that such a recall is unauthorized by Virginia law and beyond the power of the DMV.

October 19, 2015

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling that a 60-year old federal statute which criminalizes expressive First Amendment activity on the Supreme Court plaza should be “reasonable” and does not violate the First Amendment. In a petition for rehearing filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Hodge v. Talkin, Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that the ruling by a three-judge panel of the Court conflicts with earlier decisions construing a nearly-identical statute.

October 16, 2015

In 1943, the United State Supreme Court established that the First Amendment prohibits public schools from requiring students, on pain of expulsion, to salute the U.S. flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

September 25, 2015

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute are rebutting an attempt by a Virginia police officer to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of a man who was arrested as he was engaged in a First Amendment protest against President Obama while lawfully carrying a rifle. Rutherford Institute attorneys are also challenging an assertion by police that Brandon Howard was not actually under arrest, even though he was detained by police at gun point, handcuffed against his will and transported against his will to a local police station.

September 16, 2015

In an amicus curiae brief filed with the Court in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, Institute attorneys are challenging laws in California and elsewhere that require public employees who do not wish to support a union’s political activities to affirmatively file an “opt out,” thereby violating the employee’s right to keep his views private.

August 28, 2015

In a blow to First Amendment rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has upheld as “reasonable” a 60-year old federal statute criminalizing expressive First Amendment activity on the Supreme Court plaza. The appeals court’s ruling reverses a lower court decision in Hodge v. Talkin, et al., that found the ban to be “repugnant” to the Constitution and “unreasonable, substantially overbroad, and irreconcilable with the First Amendment.”

August 27, 2015

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of decorated Marine Brandon Raub who was seized by a swarm of Secret Service, FBI and local police officials and involuntarily committed to a mental institution for a week after posting controversial song lyrics and political views critical of the government on his Facebook page.