Issue Brief posted April 10, 2014
Heart of Atlanta Motel: Public Accommodation Law at 50
Fifty years ago, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964. This landmark piece of legislation outlawed certain forms of discrimination across the nation, including discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
One of the types of discriminatory conduct prohibited by the CRA was discrimination in public accommodation. This…
Issue Brief posted March 26, 2014
Law Enforcement’s Dependence on Civil Asset Forfeiture in Georgia and Texas
Law enforcement agencies across the nation use revenue derived from civil asset forfeiture to fund their operations. There is a certain appeal to the idea: The bad guys are deprived of ill-gotten or ill-used assets, and the good guys get to use those assets to pursue other bad guys. But there is reason to be concerned about law enforcement agencies becoming dependent on…
Issue Brief posted March 25, 2014
Lessons from the Voter ID Experience in Tennessee
The latest data from Tennessee about the state’s experience with its new photographic voter identification law show that this requirement has done nothing to suppress voter turnout throughout the state. In fact, overall turnout in Tennessee was slightly higher, and black voters turned out at higher rates than white voters in the first election held after the law became…
Issue Brief posted February 11, 2014
Lessons from the Voter ID Experience in Texas
The latest data from Texas about the state’s experience with its first election held after its new photographic voter identification law became effective show that this requirement has done nothing to suppress voter turnout throughout the state. In fact, turnout in last year’s constitutional elections in Texas yielded some of the highest turnout numbers in the past decade…
Issue Brief posted January 8, 2014
“The Best of Disinfectants”: Using Publicity to Fight Overcriminalization
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
In a representative democracy, the public must become attuned to and troubled by a problem before a political solution is possible. The Heritage Foundation’s overcriminalization…
Issue Brief posted November 26, 2013
Senate Joint Resolution 12: Sanctioning Racial Discrimination in Hawaii
Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are, by their very nature, odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.
Senators Brian Schatz (D–HI) and Mazie Hirono (D–HI) recently introduced a resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 12, that would provide congressional approval of amendments to the Hawaiian Homes…
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…
Issue Brief posted September 26, 2013
Concealed Carry: Illinois Supremes Catch Up on the Second Amendment
The Illinois Supreme Court has finally joined the rest of the nation in recognizing Second Amendment rights, including the ability to carry a concealed weapon in public.
Concealed Carry Law in Illinois
In a decision on September 12 in Illinois v. Aguilar, the Illinois court threw out as unconstitutional a state statute that made the “aggravated unlawful use of a…
Legal Memorandum posted September 23, 2013
Overview of the Supreme Court’s October 2013 Term
The Supreme Court of the United States begins its next term on October 7, 2013. The 2012 term was marked by a series of high-profile civil rights cases: a challenge to the Voting Rights Act coverage formula, a case dealing with racial preferences in higher education, Arizona’s proof of citizenship voter registration requirement, and, of course, the long-awaited same-sex…
Issue Brief posted September 18, 2013
What Happens During a Government “Shutdown”?
If President Barack Obama “shuts down” the government by vetoing a continuing resolution (CR) that funds all government operations with the exception of Obamacare, or the Senate fails to pass such a CR, crucial services will continue without interruption. That includes all services essential for national security and public safety—such as the military and law…
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…
Legal Memorandum posted June 19, 2013
Reasonably Construing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to Avoid Overcriminalization
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is the federal government’s principal legal weapon in the battle to protect computer systems and electronically stored information from thieves and vandals. A criminal statute that can be enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, the CFAA also authorizes private parties to bring a civil damages action against anyone who…
Backgrounder posted June 17, 2013
Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse, But It Is Reality
Everyone in America knows that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” It is drummed into students from their first civics class in elementary school, so much so that it is a part of our cultural heritage. The phrase captures an important concept about culpability. It stems from a time when criminal law was grounded in morality and a shared understanding of wrongfulness and…
Legal Memorandum posted June 13, 2013
How to Spot Judicial Activism: Three Recent Examples
The role assigned to judges in our system was to interpret the Constitution and lesser laws, not to make them. It was to protect the integrity of the Constitution, not to add to it or subtract from it—certainly not to rewrite it. For as the framers knew, unless judges are bound by the text of the Constitution, we will, in fact, no longer have a government of laws, but of…