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Reconciling the Second Amendment with Public Safety Concerns

Gun Wars: the struggle over gun rights and regulation in America, in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings and the ongoing congressional stalemate over federal gun legislation. An investigative report from "29 students from 16 journalism schools, as well as an experienced staff of editors" for Carnegie-Knight News21. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 11, 2014 - 61 comments

"I have never been custodian of my legacy."

In Conversation: Antonin Scalia "On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don’t")." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 6, 2013 - 89 comments

Iraq's constitution has something America's doesn't: The right to vote

The Missing Right: A Constitutional Right to Vote is an essay regarding the proposed constitutional amendment to provide all Americans the affirmative right to vote and empower Congress to protect this right. The right to vote is the foundation of any democracy and yet, surprisingly, such a right is not part of the constitution. U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) are trying to create that right and limit the power of special interest to chip away at it.
posted by 2manyusernames on May 26, 2013 - 29 comments

The fundamental problem is that terrorism is innovative while TSA policy is reactive

A Nude Awakening - The TSA and Privacy. An insightful article about the TSA and fundamental freedoms from the Oklahoma Daily Student newspaper. via
posted by blue_beetle on Dec 6, 2010 - 48 comments

10 Rules for Dealing with Police

1. Always be calm and cool. 2. You have the right to remain silent. 3. You have the right to refuse searches... 10 Rules for Dealing with Police. [more inside]
posted by alms on Apr 21, 2010 - 119 comments

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A Gay Soldier's Husband — In the backdrop of the conservative activist Supreme Court's recent decision against hearing a challenge to the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, one gay American relates the difficulties he faces having a partner on active duty in Iraq. In Iraq itself, death squads continue to murder gay and lesbian Iraqis, while American occupying forces look the other way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jun 10, 2009 - 73 comments

The Right to Sleep

Crimes of Necessity On Oct. 14 2008 the B.C. Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision declaring that, due to the lack of adequate homeless shelters, it was unconstitutional for the City of Victoria to prevent homeless individuals from erecting temporary structures for protection from the elements. The ruling culminates a multi-year campaign by David Arthur Johnston to establish the "right to sleep". As the decision is based on an interpretation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the ruling applies to every municipality in Canada. In the wake of the decision, Victoria City Council passed a resolution which stipulates that such shelters must be removed by 7:00 each morning. [more inside]
posted by dinsdale on Oct 26, 2008 - 100 comments

A New World Is At Hand

These are the documents that started it all. The Charters of Freedom. As the USA celebrates another Independence Day, the National Archives presents the historical development of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and their impact upon the nation and the world.
posted by netbros on Jul 4, 2008 - 56 comments

SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments On Case Determining Whether American Citizens Have the Right to Carry Hanguns under the Second Amendment

Oral arguments were heard today in District of Columbia v. Heller, the first occasion in almost 70 years for the Supreme Court to decide the question, "Just what does the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mean?"
posted by Law Talkin' Guy on Mar 18, 2008 - 104 comments

Pretty Good Pornography

A Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court in Vermont has ruled that a man allegedly caught with child pornography on his laptop need not reveal his PGP password (yes, authorities shut down the laptop and now can't get at the alleged porn) pursuant to the Fifth Amendment's protections against self incrimination. The decision is here[PDF]. A decent write-up (from CNET of all places) is here. This appears to be the first decision ever to directly address this issue, and many commentators had thought it would come out differently. The major question is whether revealing one's PGP key is "testimonial" or not. According to the Supreme Court, giving up fingerprints or blood samples isn't, nor is standing for a lineup, nor is handing over the key to a safe, but if it's combination safe, well maybe that's different. Never let it be said that your Fifth Amendment rights are easy.
posted by The Bellman on Dec 15, 2007 - 57 comments

persecution complex? prosecution complex?

The First Freedom Project --new from the Dept of Justice, announced at the Southern Baptist Convention along with a call for their help---specifically and only to protect the religious from discrimination against them. Many are not impressed: The administration has often ignored the importance of the no establishment principle by supporting attempts of governments to endorse a religious message, using tax dollars to fund pervasively religious organizations, allowing religious discrimination in hiring for federally funded projects, ... Legal strategies and actions from groups like the Alliance Defense Fund and ACLJ are now official DOJ policy, it appears. ...In his statement, Gonzales mentioned several cases litigated by ADF and its allies ...
posted by amberglow on Feb 23, 2007 - 56 comments

Bush vs The US Constitution

Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush Not much of this report from the Cato institute will be surprising to MeFites, but it is a great document [31 page PDF] that summarizes Bush's consistent disregard for the Constitution and drive for greater executive power.
posted by knave on May 3, 2006 - 27 comments

AT&T-->NSA. WTF? -EFF

EFF Accuses AT&T of diverting internet traffic to NSA. "More than just threatening individuals' privacy, AT&T's apparent choice to give the government secret, direct access to millions of ordinary Americans' Internet communications is a threat to the Constitution itself. We are asking the Court to put a stop to it now." More details from the EFF.
posted by jikel_morten on Apr 7, 2006 - 69 comments

Morality as Strategy

Are you a Republican candidate for Senate facing a tough election and having trouble getting endorsements from your own party? It's time to take in an all-American baseball game with the Commander-in-Chief, target teh gay menace, and amend the US Constitution so American voters don't have to see any more of this over their morning corn flakes. "I think this will save him," Burress said of DeWine. "I think this move right here, regardless of the reason, will send him back to Washington." Of course, it's not just a GOP thing.
posted by digaman on Mar 31, 2006 - 39 comments

even posting "Pepsi Blue" would make us liable.

"Drove my Chevy to the levee..."? That's a lawsuit. "Pass the Courvoisier"? Yup. Lawsuit too. Artwork using Barbie Dolls? Lawsuit again... It's all part of the Trademark Dilution Revision Act, which would eliminate the non-commercial "fair use" protections of trademarks in art, literature, and speech-- To amend the Trademark Act of 1946 with respect to dilution by blurring or tarnishment. It goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the 16th, and there's a large roster of groups fighting it, including the American Library Association, EFF, and more, saying that consumers as well as artists would be preventing from exercising their free speech rights unless it's amended.
posted by amberglow on Feb 3, 2006 - 35 comments

the 28th Amendment?

A explicit Right to Privacy Amendment? Dan Savage asks: why can't we have one?--...Here we are, decades after Griswold, and social conservatives and liberals are constantly arguing about whether or not the right to privacy, which is a popular right (naturally enough), and one to which most Americans believe they're entitled, is actually a right to which Americans are entitled, constitutionally-speaking. ... It affects all aspects of our lives-- from sexuality to procreation to speech to property to employment to housing, so isn't it time?
Europe has one, in the European Convention on Human Rights : Article 8-the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. ...Article 8 offers general protection for a person’s private and family life, home and correspondence from arbitrary interference by the State. This right affects a large number of areas of life ranging from surveillance to sexual identity - it is framed extremely broadly. However, the right to respect for these aspects of privacy under Article 8 is qualified. ...
posted by amberglow on Nov 3, 2005 - 50 comments

the sunlight of a public trial

..I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution. ...We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections. ...--U.S. Western District Judge John Coughenour, while sentencing "Millennium Bomber", Ahmed Ressam. With 60 Terror Plots foiled in the past 10 years, and pretty much none foiled due to the DHS and Patriot Act, it has to be asked-- Why isn't regular law enforcement and all the rest enough? (a little more inside)
posted by amberglow on Jul 27, 2005 - 38 comments

a failure for the Fourth Amendment

LossofPrivacyFilter: 1) Patriot Act Expansion Bill Approved in Secret, which now provides a new ‘administrative subpoena’ authority (that) would let the FBI write and approve its own search orders for intelligence investigations, without prior judicial approval. ...Flying in the face of the Fourth Amendment, this power would let agents seize personal records from medical facilities, libraries, hotels, gun dealers, banks and any other businesses without any specific facts connecting those records to any criminal activity or a foreign agent. ..., and from the Justice Department: 2) Most health care employees can't be prosecuted for stealing personal data, and finally, 3) Citibank admits losing 4 million customer files.
These 3 examples all within the past few days--any others i missed?
posted by amberglow on Jun 8, 2005 - 31 comments

Padilla

So, what now? Do they charge him? He's an American citizen who's spent 2½ years in custody - charged with no crime - without his lawer, access to due process, habeas corpus, etc. He has no constitutional safeguards and can be held like that because the president says he can be held like that. Who says the president has that power? The president does. Could he have even made a "dirty bomb?"
posted by Smedleyman on Mar 2, 2005 - 29 comments

Grin and bear it.

Seizure of land for the public good or unconstitutional cash grab? Originally, the power of eminent domain was used by government to condemn property for the public good, usually to build railroads or highways or bridges. This power has been expanded to redevelop dilapidated neighbourhoods, and ultimately, "economic development" (public good by way of jobs and taxes). What will you do when Pfizer wants to build a research facility *on* your backyard and your government helps them do it? Hint: it's nothing new, just wait for 2008 or 2012 (maybe).
posted by loquax on Feb 23, 2005 - 40 comments

Massachusetts gays divorcing

Gay divorce Well, if the track record of straight marriages is any indication, this was bound to happen sooner or later. "Less than seven months after same-sex couples began tying the knot in Massachusetts, the state is seeing ts first gay divorces."
posted by livingsanctuary on Dec 10, 2004 - 20 comments

Baby, I Want Your Medical Records!

Two Years After 9/11: Ashcroft’s Assault on the Constitution. "Under the direction of Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Department of Justice has undermined the constitutional rights of all Americans as it has prosecuted a war on terrorism since the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to a new report released today by People For the American Way Foundation" [via TalkLeft.] On the bright side, I hear the Patriot Act Summer Tour rocked [flash.]
posted by homunculus on Sep 9, 2003 - 9 comments

The state wants to watch you have sex...

The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments about the constitutionality of homosexual sex. While this may not be news, just listening to some of the comments by the conservatives on the court can be a chilling experience, whether you are straight or gay. Is it possible that there can be supreme court justices, supposedly the best of the best, who are really this ignorant?
posted by eas98 on Mar 27, 2003 - 68 comments

Court backs holding citizens as enemies

Federal appeals court rules that the US can hold citizens as enemies, without the protection of constitutional rights, 'at need' in time of war.
So much for the "home of the free and the brave".
posted by SpecialK on Jan 9, 2003 - 35 comments

The Constitution's 27 Amendments in our daily lives

“A nation is little more and nothing less than a conversation. [T]he conversation that is the United States has continued for more than 200 years as a lover's quarrel between equality and justice.” A gallery of ways this “conversation” is still taking place in the ways we live the Constitution’s 27 Amendments every day.
posted by arco on Nov 27, 2002 - 9 comments

First Amendment advocates fear erosion of rights in aftermath of attacks.

First Amendment advocates fear erosion of rights in aftermath of attacks. In the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack in America, First Amendment proponents expect and fear that the nation's heightened national security concerns will soon overpower some of its basic freedoms.
posted by tpoh.org on Sep 14, 2001 - 3 comments

My God! Brits actually have rights!

My God! Brits actually have rights! Of course, it's not part of their constitution since they don't have one, but they actually have a codification of things the government can't do to them.
posted by Steven Den Beste on Oct 1, 2000 - 23 comments

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