Legal Memorandum posted November 7, 2013
Bond v. United States: Federalism’s Limits on the Treaty Power
The provisions of the Constitution do not want for exercise in the courts through litigation, so when a hugely important clause in the Constitution appears before the Supreme Court of the United States after nearly a century of neglect, the public should take notice. For example, in 2008, the Supreme Court decided District of Columbia v. Heller, holding that the Second…
Issue Brief posted October 9, 2013
The President’s Legal Authority at the Debt Limit
Some time between the middle and the end of October, the federal government will reach a hard limit on the amount of debt it can issue, and its ability to finance governmental operations will be affected. Confusion about the debt limit abounds, and this Issue Brief will address some common questions.
What Is the Debt Limit?
The United States debt limit, or debt…
Backgrounder posted September 4, 2013
Department of Justice Uses Decades-old Court Order to Squash Educational Opportunity in Louisiana
On August 22, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, asking a judge to stop the state of Louisiana “from awarding any school vouchers…to students attending school in districts operating under federal desegregation orders.” DOJ alleges that the Louisiana Student Scholarships for…
Issue Brief posted August 12, 2013
Senate Immigration Bill May Violate the Origination Clause
The Senate immigration bill, S. 744, has a major constitutional flaw that should send immigration reform advocates back to the drawing board: The bill appears to violate the Origination Clause of the Constitution.
This is such a serious problem that Representative Dave Camp (R–MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued a news release outlining five…
Issue Brief posted May 8, 2013
Handouts to Lawyers and Special Interest Groups Add to Immigration Bill Costs
Language in the original Senate immigration bill (that remains in the Sponsor’s Amendment) would prove to be a full-employment scheme for immigration lawyers at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer and would provide substantial federal funding for immigrant advocacy groups.
In addition, these provisions create open-ended commitments of the U.S. government to aliens…
Backgrounder posted March 27, 2013
Why Congress and the Courts Must Respect Citizens’ Rights to Arbitration
In 1925, Congress passed the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), establishing a strong federal policy in favor of arbitration. A form of alternative dispute resolution, arbitration reduces litigation costs, a savings that is passed on to consumers. Despite its advantages, however, arbitration has recently come under attack in Congress, executive agencies, and the courts.…
Backgrounder posted February 21, 2013
New National Counterterrorism Center Guidelines Require Strong Oversight
In March 2012, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the U.S. Attorney General, and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) developed updated guidelines on data sharing and retention of “terrorism information” in federal databases. These new guidelines, which have not yet been implemented, were spurred in part by the counterterrorism failures…