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November 30, 2017

As part of its annual effort to clear up much of the legal misunderstanding over the do’s and don’ts of celebrating Christmas, The Rutherford Institute has issued a Constitutional Q&A on the “Twelve Rules of Christmas.”

November 22, 2017

Warning against the continuing encroachment of law enforcement on the security and privacy of the homes of citizens, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to prohibit police from entering private residential property and approaching a home, uninvited and without a warrant, in order to search a vehicle parked a few feet from the house.

November 17, 2017

The Rutherford Institute has filed a Fourth Amendment lawsuit on behalf of a young African-American man who, after being stopped by Louisiana police for a broken taillight, was allegedly thrown to the ground, beaten, arrested and hospitalized for severe injuries to his face and arm, all for allegedly “resisting arrest” by driving to a safe, well-lit area before stopping.

November 15, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a First Amendment case challenging a Minnesota law that bans political speech on any “badge, button, shirt, or hat” worn at election polling stations.

November 02, 2017

The Rutherford Institute has asked the Virginia Supreme Court to prohibit police from using license plate readers as mass surveillance tools to track citizens whether or not they are suspected of a crime. In filing an amicus brief in Neal v. Fairfax County Police Department, 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.

October 26, 2017

The Rutherford Institute has issued constitutional guidelines on the government’s excessive and controversial use of civil asset forfeiture, also referred to as “policing for profit,” which allows police to arbitrarily seize private property—cars, cash, jewelry, homes, etc.—without having to charge the owners with a crime. Once the assets have been seized, police divvy up the profits with the federal government, establishing what Rutherford Institute attorneys refer to as an “incentive-driven excuse for stealing from the citizenry.” The publication of the Institute’s guidelines coincides with a recent announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Justice Department plans to expand law enforcement’s use of civil asset forfeiture even in states that have restricted the practice.

October 12, 2017

In a move that could lead to a dangerous expansion of the “government speech” doctrine in order to limit any speech that occurs on government property, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a federal appeals court ruling that places highway rest areas off limits for First Amendment activities.

September 28, 2017

The Rutherford Institute, working in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, has asked a federal district court to uphold a lawsuit filed on behalf of Virginia death-row inmates held in “dehumanizing” conditions of isolation. In weighing in before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 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 20, 2017

Warning of the danger to the public from the increasing use of “knock and talk” tactics by police, The Rutherford Institute has asked the United States Supreme Court to rein in aggressive “knock and talk” practices, which have become thinly veiled, warrantless attempts by which citizens are coerced and intimidated into “talking” with heavily armed police who “knock” on their doors in the middle of the night.

September 14, 2017

Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead will be speaking on the “State of the First Amendment on College Campuses” as part of a Constitution Day event at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy on Thursday, September 14, 2017.

September 13, 2017

The Rutherford Institute is calling on the Commonwealth of Virginia to reduce the punishment for simple possession of marijuana (less than one-half ounce) to a ticket and fine instead of a misdemeanor offense, which carries with it a criminal record and the possibility of jail time.

September 07, 2017

A federal court has rejected efforts by Texas police to dismiss a Fourth Amendment lawsuit brought by The Rutherford Institute challenging a warrantless raid, search, and arrest of a Texas homeowner based on unreliable information from an anonymous source.

August 31, 2017

Warning that a dangerous expansion of the “government speech” doctrine by the courts could be used to limit any speech that occurs on government property, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that places highway rest areas off limits for First Amendment activities.

August 24, 2017

Pushing back against an effort to limit the First Amendment rights of those individuals who express ideas that are unpopular, controversial or at odds with what the government determines to be acceptable, The Rutherford Institute has issued constitutional guidelines on the rights of citizens to engage in peaceful protest activities.

August 14, 2017

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

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

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

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.