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In Our Opinion

Tales Stranger Than Fiction

Each week, the Center highlights obscure legal cases from across the country in the Jester's Courtroom. These tales are truly "stranger than fiction." Some of them are disturbing; most are comical. All are our light-hearted way of pointing out a legal system run amok. However, wild and wacky tales are not confined to the nation's courtrooms. With the holiday season upon us, we saw an opportunity to expand on the light-heartedness of the Jester's Courtroom and share with you some of these lunacies from the past couple of weeks...[more]

The Pigs Were Saved; the Pigs Are Dead
(Another Lesson in Political Reality from Florida)

The pigs are dead, gonna be Jimmy Deaned into sausage, perhaps coming soon to a breakfast table near you. The voters of Florida, suckered into an animal rights initiative that added pregnant pig protection to the Florida Constitution, killed the pigs...[more]

Clicked Into Submission?

A decision issued by seven judges sitting half a world away, interpreting another country's law, may have a greater effect on Internet publishing in the United States than our own First Amendment. According to a ruling from the High Court of Australia, individuals and media that post material online available in Australia must answer for their electronic speech in the courts "down under."...[more]

Boo-Hoo, Moo-Moo

Most would agree that cows are by and large pretty happy creatures, slightly less jovial than the common tree squirrel, but seemingly content with their lot in life. They stand. They lie. They chew. They swat. They get milked. They get eaten. 'Nuff said. Au contraire, say the activists cum circus freaks at PETA...[more]

Burk's War Against Augusta National:
The New York Times Takes Command

When Martha Burk began her ladies of the camo underwear assault on the membership policy of Augusta National Golf Club, the Center for Individual Freedom viewed it as a brief opportunity to remind of a bedrock constitutional right - free association...[more]

Campus Crackdown

"But everybody else is doing it... "It's the oldest excuse in the book. The one that irks parents most, but universally utilized to justify youthful misdeeds. While most of us tried the excuse to rationalize such relatively innocent behavior as wearing short skirts or breaking curfew, the rationalization has been adopted by thousands of college students to steal music, movies and other copyrighted works on the Internet...[more]

Judge Reinhardt's Ricochet

Having ruled the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last week focused its sights on the Second Amendment, declaring there is no individual right to keep and bear arms...[more]

Government's Hand in IOLTA Cookie Jar

Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court established that interest generated on client funds deposited in lawyers' trust accounts is the private property of the clients. But in arguments heard December 9, several justices seemed skeptical of following that decision to its logical conclusion by declaring that the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment constitutionally prohibits states from siphoning off the interest accrued on client funds in order to support legal aid programs for the poor...[more]

Flying the Unfriendly Skies:
It's Time for Tort Reform to Take Off

Perhaps running low on new deep-pocket defendants to sue, plaintiffs' lawyers are reaching to new heights and making the skies an unfriendly place in which to do business. The latest wave of personal injury lawsuits, titled the "economy class syndrome," are being brought by long-haul air travelers who claim they have developed life-threatening blood clots after sitting immobile on long flights in economy class...[more]

Time to Close the Door on "Plused" Admissions

Race may finally be declared constitutionally off-limits when it comes to college admissions, nearly a quarter century after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an affirmative action program that admitted students to the University of California-Davis medical school based upon the color of their skin...[more]

Sally Forth the Candidates (Sashay to the Left)

Here they come, tumbling and stumbling out of the chute. Only one month after the midterm elections of 2002, several of which are not yet over, 23 months before the national elections of 2004, the presidential wannabes emerge, strutting their stuff like beauty contestants, craving money, affection, more money please and respect...[more]

Majority of Americans Believe Augusta National Should Not Bow to Martha Burk's Pressure

A new national survey released today found that seven out of 10 Americans support Augusta's right as a private club to make its own policy decisions — 72% of respondents said Augusta should not change its membership policy due to pressure from outside organizations...[more]

FEC to Investigate Ms. PAC-Man

San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi doled out wads of cash to her Democratic colleagues in the months leading up to the November 5 mid-term elections. She raised and distributed more money than any other member in the U.S. House of Representatives. In fact, her prolific fundraising may well have earned Pelosi the overwhelming support in her caucus to replace Dick Gephardt as House Minority Leader — despite being labeled "out-of-touch" with mainstream America by many in her own party...[more]

It's Not Justice Holmes' Harvard Anymore

A committee at the law school that produced such champions of the First Amendment as Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Louis D. Brandeis, and William J. Brennan, Jr., announced plans Monday to draft a speech code that would ban offensive and harassing language and punish professors and students who violate the rules...[more]

States Vote to Streamline Collection of Internet Sales Taxes

A coalition of lawmakers and tax collectors from more than 30 states gathered together in Chicago on November 12 to approve the final draft of an interstate agreement to "simplify" their tax laws and make it easier for budget-strapped legislators to collect sales and use taxes on Internet purchases...[more]

WARNING: SHARP LEFT TURN AHEAD

President Bush triumphed in last week's midterm elections. His party recaptured control of the United States Senate and strengthened its majority in the House of Representatives, a feat of historic proportions that has Democrats still pondering the question, "What went wrong?"...[more]

Fun with Numbers

The wife is having fun with numbers. Barbara Bush called her three times the week of the midterm elections, and, by the third (automated) conversation, she was helping the former First Lady with Thanksgiving stuffing recipes. Martin Sheen called her only once, so that's the end of West Wing in our house...[more]

Shoot-Out Between Hootie and the Blowhard Continues

The media frenzy over the war between William "Hootie" Johnson, chairman of the exclusive Augusta National Golf Club, and the boisterous chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, Martha Burk, is reaching a fever pitch...[more]

Celebrity Smackdown: Winona Ryder and the Orange-handled Scissors

Free Winona! Actually, there's nothing to free her from. In reality, she's out on bail, a paltry $20,000, probably paid with a Platinum American Express card to get the bonus points redeemable at Saks. The prosecutor who pursued a full-blown trial to get a felony conviction won't ask for jail time, so where's the deterrent in that? It is likely that Ryder's felony conviction will be knocked down to a misdemeanor a while after they've struck the courtroom set...[more]

The Midterm Elections: Looking for the Lockbox

It is fitting that the country music awards followed by one night the midterm elections. It is equally fitting that Alan Jackson, the humble, deferential Georgia writer and singer of simple songs swept the table in stunning similarity to the President's sweep the night before...[more]

Federal Judge Rules Beef Checkoff is 'Government Speech'

Abandoning the notion that the beef checkoff is a "self-help" program, the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) have temporarily staved off one of a number of challenges to the beef checkoff by persuading a federal court that the program is, in fact, "government speech."...[more]

The Politics of Prosecution: The Scum Also Rises

For 22 tense and horrendous days, the multistate region adjoining this nation's capital was terrorized by the murders of 10 citizens and the serious wounding of three, victims chosen at random, regarded only as targets of opportunity. While most citizens will wish simply to move on, we should not, for in the totality of the tale is much to be probed and questioned, albeit at a more considered and consequential level than talking-head television...[more]

Liar, Liar, Set the Polygraph on Fire

Dr. William Marston, creator of the comic strip Wonder Woman, penned under the pseudonym of Charles Moulton, now has people amused by another of his creations — the lie detector test.

A new report from the National Academies' National Research Council supports what many junk science opponents have long argued: lie detector (polygraph) tests, which measure heart rate, respiratory rate and perspiration during interrogation, are too flawed to be relied upon and do not justify the government's heavy use...[more]

Welcome to the Town of "Got Milk?"
A Shining Symbol of the Fleecing of America's Dairy Farmers


What to do when an endless parade of mustachioed celebrities starts getting old? Go out and buy a town, of course.


Jeff Manning, Executive Director of the California Milk Processor Board, which oversees the "Got Milk?" advertising program, has devised a plan to solicit a small town in his state to change its name to "Got Milk?" in exchange for a "meaningful contribution" to the town and construction of a local "Got Milk?" museum and tourist attraction. "It's all about the ad campaign," Manning beamed to the San Francisco Chronicle.[more]

Academic "Gunned Down" in Plain Sight

The saga of Michael Bellesiles is over, except for the whining, which typically will not end. The Emory University history professor who couldn't count guns in Colonial America has "resigned," explaining that he couldn't continue to teach in what he considers to be "a hostile environment."[more]

We, the [Pregnant Pigs] Of the State of Florida…

"FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD"

Remember George Orwell’s Animal Farm? Snowball (the pig) inscribed the above maxim on the side of the barn to teach the farm’s inhabitants the "essential principle of Animalism." While most of us understand that Orwell’s classic allegorical novel was meant to educate us about the evils of totalitarianism, the animal rights movement has adopted Snowball’s motto as its own[more]

South Dakota: A State of Men, And Not Of Laws?

The proposed addition to South Dakota's Constitution, known as Amendment A, states that criminal defendants have the right "to argue the merits, validity, and applicability of the law, including the sentencing laws." Thus, if approved, the amendment will enable a defendant and his lawyers to openly argue that jurors should ignore the law and vote to acquit for any variety of reasons, even if the facts show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. By allowing such an argument, the amendment would institutionalize the power of jury nullification in South Dakota's Constitution.

Unfortunately, institutionalizing the power of jury nullification will only permit juries to dispense inconsistent justice on a more frequent basis...
[more]

The President and the Networks:
The Speech that Didn’t Air (But Won the Ratings)

The President would speak, the Vice President would speak, the Secretaries of State and Defense would speak and the National Security Advisor would speak. After they spoke, the litany would crank up again: But he’s got to lay it out so the American people will understand it. Now, not many real American people were saying that, but you had enough self-appointed spokespersons you couldn’t have gotten near a microphone anyway...[more]

Broken Promises and Partisan Politics Shed(d) Light on State of Judicial Confirmation Process

When people think of the U.S. Senate and its history, the name Strom Thurmond comes to mind. The Senior Republican Senator from South Carolina has served in the distinguished chamber for more than 48 years. He is the oldest member ever to serve in Congress; he will turn 100 in December. But when the 107th Congress adjourns for the year, Senator Thurmond, who is ailing, will retire...[more]

Dear Barbra:


Welcome to prime time politics.
Last weekend, you headlined a fundraiser for Democrats, joined only by, shall we say, lesser luminaries and the ubiquitous Howdy Doody Gephardt. You sang your three songs for a big old bag of silver, but your voice was strongest in opposing war against Iraq...[more]

Martha Burk is Out of Bounds in Attack on Augusta

Reading between the headlines in the much-ballyhooed war over Augusta National Golf Club’s membership practices, one is left with a clear understanding that the exploitive efforts of Martha Burk and her media-starved gang of women’s rights activists are not based upon the law, but on a politically correct crusade to force the private club into accepting women members out of so-called "moral obligation."...[more]

Teresa Elenz Returned to School: Zero Tolerance Railroad Job Derailed

On Friday, September 27, an independent hearing officer appointed by the Escambia County, Florida District School Board drafted an order for Teresa Elenz to return to Pensacola High School. Pending a meeting of the school board to finalize the order, Teresa was allowed to return to school on Monday, September 30...[more]

BCRA and the Hollywood Loophole

The media stands to gain enormous power in the political process should BCRA be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, as they’re exempt. That much is clear to everyone following this issue, especially the editorial page editors of nearly every major newspaper in the country. However, what’s not being discussed, much to the delight of "reformers," is what appears to be an exemption for Hollywood...[more]

Zero Tolerance in Pensacola: Inquisition in a Cesspool

The new school year has barely begun, yet the zero tolerance torquemados are already hard at their unforgiving task, punishing the innocent in mindless obeisance to institutionalized dereliction of duty...[more]

Muzzling Corporate Speech

It’s open season on Corporate America. Somewhere between the tech stock bubble bursting and the first Enron executive testifying, an army of special interest groups, anti-globalization ideologues and trial lawyers awakened to the smell of opportunity, and sprang into action...[more]

‘Out With Soda, In With Granola!’...Fat Police Target Schools

We’ve been warned against butter-soaked movie popcorn, cheese-smothered Mexican dishes, biggie-sized fast food, and the sinister trans fatty acids, but a majority of Americans are still overweight. Now, public health crusaders are off to rescue our children from the grips of what they’re calling a national "obesity epidemic."...[more]

Owen’s Defeat Draws Line in the Sand

The battle over the confirmation of President George W. Bush’s nominations to the federal bench has been anything but routine. However, a nominee who has served as a state supreme court justice over the past eight years, elected to a second term with 84 percent of the vote and with the endorsements of every major newspaper in the state, should clear the Senate’s "advise and consent" hurdle with relative ease. Add to that a unanimous "well-qualified" rating from the American Bar Association’s Committee on the Judiciary, the support of colleagues, a bipartisan group of 15 former state bar presidents, both her state’s senators and a majority in the U.S. Senate and you have a shoo-in, right?...[more]

One Electron Too Far?: Trespassing Via the Internet

You get to the office, pour the obligatory cup of coffee, turn on the computer, and the work day begins. Most likely, your first order of business is checking your messages, which in this information age means checking your e-mail. Inevitably, the inbox opens to page after page of new e-mail messages that have piled up overnight, and now your sole goal is to quickly determine how many you can delete in one swift click without ever reading past the subject line. After all, although there might be one or two messages from colleagues at work or friends from college, most of your inbox is full with the Internet equivalent of direct mail advertisements and telephone solicitations...[more]

More Guns than Bibles

Thus it was that Emory University chose the last week of August to announce that History Professor Michael Bellesiles will spend his fall semester on paid leave, pending the overdue conclusion of the university’s investigation into substantial and far-ranging charges of research fraud...[more]

First Paradox: We Cherish the Unknown

A solid majority of Americans generally believe that individual rights protected by the First Amendment are "essential," but don’t ask those same citizens to identify where these "First Freedoms" are protected in the U.S. Constitution. Those are the findings revealed in a survey sponsored by the Freedom Forum and the American Journalism Review conducted between June 12 and July 5, 2002...[more]

Hacking Through the Ivy: Moral Relativism at Princeton

We admit to a perverse fondness for stories relating the perfidies of academia, although we diligently attempt to mask that perversity by citing more serious principles for our interest. It is thus that we discuss Princeton University’s Internet second story job on Yale University’s admissions Website...[more]

The Indelible Right of Free Expression

The list of artists whose work has been banned is a long one. Ronald P. White has joined that list. It was 1999 when this South Carolina artist last created a work of art in his home state, and that creation was videotaped and broadcast to a local television audience. While most artists would bask in the glow of such exposure, White’s led to his arrest and conviction for merely having performed his craft...[more]

Extra! Extra! Kansas City Newspaper Convicted of Criminal Defamation

"Is gossip that [Carol] Marinovich lives in Johnson County true?" It is not, and the politically-charged question posed by The New Observer, a free, periodically published Kansas City, Kansas newspaper, could land the paper’s publisher and editor behind bars...[more]

Let There Be Light
(But Watch Out for the "Dark Sky" Movement)

Enter now the dark sky movement. If you’ve been too distracted by terrorism, the economy, kidnappings, sexual predator priests, the heartbreaking travails of Martha Stewart or the return of Phil Donahue to notice, you’re excused. We’re here for you. The dark sky movement is currently pre-pubescent, a dangerous developmental phase...[more]

Much Ado About the 9th Circuit

There has been a lot of hand-wringing in our nation’s capitol lately over the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Fueled by the ongoing backlash to the court’s controversial decision against the Pledge of Allegiance, and the overwhelming reversal rate of 9th Circuit cases by the U.S. Supreme Court, some in Congress are arguing the appeals court is too unwieldy and should be split up...[more]

"Let’s Get Ready to Rumble. . ."

Not since Muhammad Ali and "Smokin’ Joe" Frazier fought the Thrilla in Manila more than 25 years ago has there been so much buzz. Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call called it a modern-day "Clash of the Titans" — the "Thrilla in the LBJ Room."

The event: A shouting match between two Democratic heavyweights in the U.S. Senate — Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Russ Feingold (D-WI). The setting: A Democratic Policy Committee luncheon. The issue: Implementation of Feingold’s Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA) and its impact on Senate Democrats...[more]

Center to Participate in Capitol Hill Roundtable on Legal Challenges to Commodity Checkoff Programs

On July 22, 2002, the Center for Individual Freedom’s Executive Director, Eric Schippers, will participate in a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill, hosted by The Dairy Trade Coalition, on the mounting legal and legislative challenges to the nation’s mandatory agricultural commodity promotion programs...[more]

House Votes to Grant Pilots Right to Bear Arms in Cockpit

"Do you really think that 9/11 would have happened if our pilots had been armed, as they should have been armed?" asked House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) during a recent debate. While no one can answer that question with certainty, the House of Representatives last week overwhelmingly responded (voting 310-113) by authorizing pilots to carry guns in the cockpit as a "last line of defense" against would-be terrorists...[more]

The Pawn and the Pledge

If you’ve picked up a newspaper lately, or glanced at the evening news, you may have confused the remarkably similar stories of raging wildfires devouring wide swaths of America with stories on the ongoing public outcry over the Pledge of Allegiance being declared unconstitutional...[more]

Shakedown in Tennessee

The budget battle in Tennessee is over, at least for now. For the fourth consecutive year, anti-tax advocates were successful in defeating the imposition of a state income tax, and the legislature fulfilled its constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget — despite the state’s $800 million deficit...[more]

John McCain Strikes Again
Who in the World is Ellen Weintraub?

President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees face yet another hurdle in the U.S. Senate — Senator John McCain. The Arizona Republican has placed a hold on all nominations pending before the Senate, including 17 judicial nominees. And the "maverick" senator is vowing to prevent any action on their confirmations until the president assures him that Ellen Weintraub will receive a recess appointment to a seat on the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) during Congress’ upcoming August break...[more]

One Nation, Under Siege by Establishment Clause Revisionism

A nation at war, which continues to mourn its fallen heroes from 9-11, wrapping itself in the collective comfort of a renewed spirit of patriotism, was rudely awakened this morning to news that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional...[more]

    To read the Center’s press release, click here

Politically Correct Coffee? Civil War A-Brewing!

In November, on election day, voters of Berkeley, California (you thought, perhaps, Dubuque?), population 102,743, may exercise their extreme democratic right to locally ban the commercial service of coffee that is not organic, shade grown or fair-trade certified. Note the "or," requiring compliance with only one of the three...[more]

Beef Checkoff Declared Unconstitutional

In a case with broad implications for the nation’s agricultural commodity promotion programs, a federal judge in South Dakota on June 21 struck down the federal Beef Promotion and Research Act, which is responsible for the beef checkoff and messages such as: "Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner."

    To read the Center’s statement on the LMA case, click here

"Thong Lady" Stripped of Position

Rita Wilson, the former vice principal of Rancho Bernardo High School, in suburban San Diego, achieved her 15 minutes of notoriety earlier this year by too thoroughly investigating suspected "inappropriate underwear," i.e., thongs, at a school dance...[more]

Koffee Klatch Targeted for Taxation

From the city that brought us the Frappuccino, a group of child-care advocates in Seattle are seeking to raise additional money for early education programs through a 10-cent tax on espresso drinks...[more]

Why You Care about Jennifer Aniston’s Lawsuit

You are on your property, at your pool, sunbathing, partially nude. You are alone. An eight-foot wall protects your privacy, as well as the sensitivities of your neighbors and the community, if any. Welcome to the world of Jennifer Aniston...[more]

Welcome to Grant County, Oregon: A ‘U.N.-free Zone’

Last month, voters in this small eastern Oregon county of 7,800 residents carefully pondered two important ballot questions. No, they weren’t about increased funding for schools, balancing the budget, or even term limits. One called for banning the United Nations from the county; the other would permit residents to cut down trees on federal land without U.S. Forest Service approval...[more]

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again...and Again...and Again... This Time, Anti-Tax Proponents Call Out the ‘DOGS’

For the umpteenth time in the past four years, Tennesseans rallied at the state capitol in Nashville last week to oppose a state income tax. And, for the umpteenth time, chants of "NO NEW TAXES" from thousands of angry taxpayers, and incessant horn-honking from citizens circling the capitol in their automobiles, won the day...[more]

A Veiled Threat

Where on Earth is Larry Ellison when you need him?

If the over-hyped, oft-maligned founder of Oracle can save the world from terrorism through biometric, "smart ID card" technologies that capture data on everything from DNA and fingerprints to unsightly mole hair, surely he can convince a Muslim-convert in Winter Park, Florida to lift her veil for a driver’s license photo...[more]

Fears of DCS-1000: VALIDATED

In the grand scheme of things, post 9-11, in a time of government by finger pointing, this week’s story about a glitch with DCS-1000 is not large. The significance of it is.

Don’t know what DCS-1000 is? That’s intentional. Does the name Carnivore ring a stronger memory bell? It should. That’s the FBI computer intelligence program to covertly monitor e-mail of suspects, all preceded by appropriate warrants, all so carefully controlled as to not grab the e-mail of innocents. That’s what we were told. Well, crap called a rose won’t ever smell like one, and Carnivore renamed DCS-1000 to eliminate the ominous connotation of the name will not change the ominous reality of the program...[more]

Obesity: A National Epidemic?

What do heart throb movie stars Russell Crowe and Tom Cruise have in common? How about hall-of-fame athletes Michael Jordan and Cal Ripkin Jr.? According to the federal government, all four of these famed individuals are overweight. In fact, by the feds’ definition, 61 percent of us are overweight or obese and, yep, you guessed it, the epidemic is now affecting the children...[more]

The Sterilization of America: A Cautionary History

Eugenics, a word all but removed from America’s lexicon after World War II, is the "science" of improving the human race through controlled breeding. Much like the Trail of Tears, Tuskegee medical experiments, or the Japanese internment in this country, the word harkens us back to a shameful time most would just as soon forget...[more]

The Check’s (Not) in the Mail

If you’re one of those Americans who knowingly overpay their taxes each year, expecting a hefty refund in return, it may be time to revisit your W-4 withholding form...[more]

The Photograph Flap

The political flap of the week is over…a photograph.

The Republican Party has chosen three photographs of President Bush to be used as a thank you gift for contributors to a forthcoming fundraiser for Congressional candidates in June. The first is of the President’s inauguration, the second of his State of the Union address. The third, the one that has drawn fire, is of the President aboard Air Force One, talking on the telephone to Vice President Cheney, on 9-11...[more]

Congress Rejects Back-Door ‘Government Speech’ Ploy by Agricultural Trade Associations

After months of around-the-clock, intensive negotiations, Congress passed the long-awaited $173 billion, 10-year Farm Bill. The 421-page colossus seems to contain something for everyone this election-year — except for the 15 agricultural trade associations who sought to slip into the bill language that would declare all commodity checkoff-related advertising as "government speech."...[more]

The Politicalization of Justice

U.S federal courts are in crisis, primarily due to overloaded dockets, escalating judicial vacancies and the refusal of Senate Democrats to move the confirmation process. Instead, the Democrats seek to institutionalize ideology as the benchmark and character assassination as the means to fundamentally alter the constitutional integrity of "advise and consent."...[more]

The First Amendment Meets a Mob...School Officials Duck and Cover

Summer, like a late island ferry in the Caribbean, come soon, so, after several inevitable graduation or prom conflagrations, we may get a brief respite from writing about some of the trolls and troglodytes to whom the youth of America are entrusted for the purposes of public school education...[more]

(Not) Another Hallmark Holiday

May 1, 2002 marked the 45th commemoration of National Law Day. In recognition, like many of his predecessors, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation, calling on all Americans to "reflect on the vital work performed by our Federal Judiciary in upholding the rule of law and on the importance of a robust and independent judiciary in our system of government." The president also sent his 100th judicial nominee to the U.S. Senate...[more]

Of Thugs and Thongs... Zero Tolerance Where Art Thou?

It’s happened again. A high school administrator has demonstrated insufficient intelligence and restraint to be put in charge of a hamster habitat, never mind a school. This time, the venue is Rancho Bernardo High School, in suburban San Diego. The administrator is Rita Wilson, the school’s vice principal. It seems that Ms. Wilson became overly obsessed that female students might attend a school dance wearing thongs and/or not wearing bras under their outer clothing...[more]

Vanessa Leggett Accepts First Amendment Award
Crown Publishing Buys Her Book

On April 24, 2002, Vanessa Leggett, the Texas writer jailed for refusing to reveal confidential sources or to turn over all her research to federal prosecutors investigating a notorious murder case, received the PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award.

    To read her poignant acceptance remarks, click here.

This week, Crown Publishing made a pre-emptive bid for publishing rights to Leggett’s book about the case and her ordeal.

‘Happy Powder’: Tune In, Turn On, Get Kicked Out

Ecstasy, meth, blunts, magic mushrooms…Kids today try the darnedest things. Now this: "Happy Powder." If you’re looking for a quick fix between home room and first period, nothing beats the rush from this uncut, pure blend of. . .sugar, Kool Aid and cinnamon! That’s right parents, Happy Powder, the latest designer-like "drug" from Satan’s den, just waiting to lure your school children into its ugly jaws of sinful pleasure...[more]

Congresspersons Try to Ban Camera from Hearing
(Say What?)

There was this hearing last week before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. The subject bill would block cities and counties from suing gun manufacturers for the use of guns in crimes not committed by said manufacturers, legislation already adopted by 26 states...[more]

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Bribe ‘Em. . .

And do it with taxpayer money.

That seems to be the mindset of "smart-growth" activists and some on Capitol Hill who want Washington bureaucrats to determine how land will be developed and used at the state and local levels. Their goal: federally prescribed land use restrictions in every state and locality across the nation...[more]

CIF Among Two Dozen Groups and Individuals to Join McConnell Legal Challenge to "Campaign Finance Reform"

At a Capitol Hill press conference on April 10, CIF joined two dozen organizations and individuals from across the political spectrum to announce their participation as plaintiffs in Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) legal challenge (McConnell v. FEC) to the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act...[more]

Colorado Supreme Court Protects Privacy of Book Buyers

On April 8, 2002, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled police could not force a Denver bookstore to hand over the names of individuals who purchased books detailing the manufacture of illegal drugs...[more]

Center for Individual Freedom to Join Lawsuit
Challenging Constitutionality of "Campaign Finance Reform" Law

On March 27, 2002, President George W. Bush – privately, without ceremony or even a publicly released photograph – signed into law the bill commonly referred to as "campaign finance reform"– the most extensive and insidious assault on political speech ever ventured in the U.S...{more]

‘Hey, Teacher, Leave Them Kids Alone’

In an age of "zero tolerance" in schools, where students can be expelled for the high crime of aspirin possession, it should come as no surprise that the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the merits of random drug testing for public school students wishing to participate in after-school activities...[more]

(Tree-free) Pulp Fiction

Washington Times investigative reporter Audrey Hudson is hot on the trail of another wild one. Having recently sent the fur flying in the lynx scandal, wherein a group of federal and state wildlife workers were found to have submitted false evidence of the endangered cat in three national forests...[more]

It’s About Time (For All the Good It Will Do)

The Georgia legislature is considering a bill that will substitute "common sense" for school zero tolerance policies, which have classified the most innocent of objects as weapons. Although far from alone, Georgia has had its share of outrageous punishments administered to students who had no intent to harm anyone with anything.

Ain’t it weird when legislatures find it necessary to institute such laws? What do they do when they conclude that school administrators involved in a number of reported zero tolerance cases don’t have the intellectual ability or moral fiber to demonstrate common sense? If they did, they would either have used it or resigned before subjecting children to such abuse, and themselves to such ridicule.

Soooey!

Germany has begun to phase in European Union guidelines regarding the care of pigs. Henceforth and forthwith, pig farmers must visit all pigs at least 20 seconds each day, spending both morning and evening "quality time" with them, provide toys so that the pigs do not fight and extra winter lighting to keep them from becoming depressed. Pig pens must be air-conditioned, and special hospital facilities must be set up so that sick pigs can "recover in peace."

German agriculture authorities will conduct surprise inspections to ensure compliance. You vill talk to your pigs, yes?

Federalizing State and Local Land Use Policies?
HUD Releases "Legislative Guidebook"

On November 22, 2001, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in conjunction with the American Planning Association (APA), released a 2,000 page "Legislative Guidebook" that property rights foes plan to use to promote so-called "smart growth" policies at local and state levels...[more]

Dairy Farmers and Center for Individual Freedom Mount Legal Challenge to Dairy Checkoff

A family of dairy farmers, working in conjunction with the Center for Individual Freedom (CIF), today announced that it has engaged a prominent agricultural attorney to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the USDA’s mandatory dairy promotion program....[more]

Massachusetts Campaign Finance Reform Melee

Massachusetts’s highest court is now refereeing a campaign reform fight with constitutional implications that has angry voter groups in one corner and a stubborn legislature in the other...[more]

"Campaign Finance Reform" Vote Set

The U.S. House of Representatives has set a vote on so-called "Campaign Finance Reform," aka Shays-Meehan, for Wednesday, February 14. Debate, which will undoubtedly actuate one of the great political posture festivals of the season, will be on Tuesday...[more]

A Sordid Police Trail, Paved in Gypsum

Last spring, the highly-touted narcotics division of the Dallas Police Department was on a roll, chalking-up more than a dozen large cocaine busts, amounting to more than 650 pounds of white powder being pulled off the streets. It was, perhaps in hindsight, too good to be true...[more]

"Trustworthy Computing"
Privacy and Security Deemed Microsoft’s Top Priorities

As cyber attacks become more rampant and privacy and security continually rank as chief concerns among consumers and businesses, the world’s largest supplier of personal computer software is responding with its new "Trustworthy Computing" initiative ... [more]

The Myth of Fingerprints

When we were in grade school, we were taught that no two snowflakes were, are or ever could be the same. For the skeptical among us, that required a gargantuan leap of faith, all things considered, including the number of uninvestigated snowflakes, past, present and future...[more]

Center’s Executive Director to Introduce HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson at CPAC 2002

The Center for Individual Freedom’s Executive Director, Eric Schippers, will introduce Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson at CPAC 2002. Secretary Thompson is scheduled to deliver a speech to the conference at 1:05 pm on Thursday, January 31, the opening day of this year’s event...[more]

Hold the Mayo, Please

It seems the esteemed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has been busying itself lately with the study of detecting (or trying to detect) lies through a newly-developed facial blushing, heat-seeking camera...[more]

O.J.! O.J.! Zacarias? (The Trials of Television)

Remember the O.J. Simpson trial? Of course you do. It was televised, complete with instant replay, overnight reruns, court handicappers and commentary, some distinguished, most dreadful. When the action slowed, you got analyses of Judge Lance Ito’s bench tchotchkes, bios of the bailiffs, route maps of the chauffeurs and the menu of Mezzaluna...[more]

Here a Lynx, There a Lynx…

Lost on most mainstream media in the avalanche of year-end reviews was a story revealed by the Washington Times on a group of federal and state wildlife workers who planted false evidence of a threatened species in three national forests...[more]

Is Microchip Manufacturer Paving the Road to Easy Street for Big Brother?

A small chip that can be embedded in a human to store paragraphs of personal information and transmit them via radio waves to a scanning device has recently been developed by Applied Digital Solutions of Palm Beach, Florida...[more]

The Politics of 2002

A year plagued by war, recession, bioterror attacks and political bickering ended with a considerable amount of unfinished business in the nation’s capitol — by design. Memories of bipartisan pledges faded as Congress abandoned unity and cooperation with not even a wink and a nod...[more]


Guest Commentary

Our Party Needs To Embrace Tax Cuts

By Senator Zell Miller
: (As appeared in The Wall Street Journal) Why did the Democratic Party lose so badly last week? It's simple. We didn't give people any real reason to vote for us and we gave them far too many reasons to vote against us. We set ourselves up to be taken down by a popular president who figured out a way to exploit both of those weaknesses…[more]

For the Homeland;
Congress must give new department more flexibility

By Representative Rob Portman: It now has been more than three months since President Bush sent Congress his bold proposal to create a new Department of Homeland Security, and more than six weeks since the House passed its version of the legislation. The House bill kept to the president's basic outline: merging 22 different agencies and 170,000 employees into one team with a clear mission to protect our homeland from terrorist threats...[more]

Healthy Campaigns, Democracy Are Compatible

By Senator Mitch McConnell: (Reprinted with permission from The Hill) As the outrage lobby, a.k.a the campaign finance reform industry, continues its hype and hyperbole, I am reminded of that infamous quote from the House Democratic leader, Dick Gephardt (Mo.), on this very issue: "What we have is two important values in direct conflict: freedom of speech and our desire for healthy campaigns in a healthy democracy. You can't have both." To the contrary, the free exercise of the rights protected by our forefathers is the cornerstone of the success of our society...[more]

Bearing Arms in D.C.
Will Individuals Get Their Second Amendment Rights?
The District Presents the Test Case
(pdf download)

By Robert A. Levy:
(Reprinted with permission from Legal Times) Michael Freeman is probably a bad dude — even a poster boy for gun control. He was convicted as a juvenile for assault with intent to kill, then charged as an adult with violating the ban on handgun possession in the District of Columbia. In short, Freeman isn't the type of guy who elicits much sympathy for an argument that prosecutors should drop their pending charge because D.C. gun laws violate the Second Amendment.

To download the pdf, click here.

Want to Cut Taxes? Don’t Look to the Media for Help

By Mark T. Moore: President Bush recently signed into law an increase in the Federal government’s credit limit from $5.95 trillion to $6.4 trillion dollars, a nearly eight percent increase. Forget about the relative merit, or lack thereof, of each of the Federal programs accounting for the increased demand of taxpayer money, focus instead on the fact that our Federal government can unilaterally raise its own credit limit. Imagine having the power to raise your own credit limit; that’s a scary thought for most of us...[more]

Harassment Law Chills Free Speech

By Kingsley Browne: The Michigan Court of Appeals recently heard arguments to determine whether Michigan's sexual harassment law violates the First Amendment. The law fails the constitutional test in a number of respects...[more]

Let Hollywood Remain Hollywood

By Bruce Herschensohn: I have lived in Los Angeles since the early 1940s. For the past 18 of those years I have lived in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles — I think. The reason I have to add the words "I think" is because the borders of Hollywood have always been argued. Since I live a couple of doors west of LaBrea Avenue rather than east of LaBrea Avenue, it might mean I don't live in Hollywood. It depends on who you talk to...[more]

Fear of Flying

By Captain Tracy W. Price: Transportation Undersecretary John Magaw has announced that he will not permit pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit. For decades, however, airline pilots were armed with firearms without accident or incident. From the dawn of commercial aviation until 1987, airline pilots carried firearms in the cockpit...[more]

Free Speech Means Not Having to Play "Mother May I?" with the Government

By Erik S. Jaffe, Esq.: On Monday, the Supreme Court confirmed what most people not working for the government intuitively understand: Forcing people to get permission from the government in order to speak to their fellow citizens violates the First Amendment. In its decision in Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York v. Village of Stratton, No. 00-1737 (June 17, 2002), the Court struck down a village ordinance that required persons wishing to engage in door-to-door advocacy first to register with the Village and obtain a permit...{more]

Liar, Liar, Colorado is on Fire

By Mark T. Moore: Does anyone remember O.J. Simpson saying that he would not rest until he found the person who murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman? Of course you do, we all do, but now that O.J. is mostly out of the limelight playing golf, nobody much cares anymore, except for the victims’ families. While O.J. is not at it again, U.S. Forest Service Ranger Terry Barton apparently thought she could benefit from an O.J. style subterfuge. Thankfully, she did not succeed. If she had, someone else may have paid for her crimes, in addition to the 25 families who have already lost their homes to the fire she started...[more]

Ninth Circuit Issues Lincoln Club Ruling On Independent Expenditure Contributions

By John Eastman, Esq.: A quarter century ago, the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo held that restrictions on contributions to candidates were subject to lower scrutiny than restrictions on expenditures themselves because such contributions were only "speech by proxy," enabling someone else other than the contributor to speak...[more]

Battle of the SUV: Conservation of National Security

By Jason E. Lippert: In the true spirit of the First Amendment (most notably the freedoms of speech and assembly), protestors convened at a local Washington, D.C. Exxon service station. Their purpose? A counter-demonstration against a conglomeration of public interest groups – including U.S. PIRG, Greenpeace, and the Alaska Wilderness League – calling themselves the Stop Exxon-Mobil Alliance...[more]

Westover, West Virginia Suspends Sign Ordinance;
Stops Mayor From Removing Political Signs From Private Property


By Kim Croyle, Esq.
: Following repeated calls by the Center for Individual Freedom to amend a controversial sign ordinance, the City Council of Westover, West Virginia, has directed its Mayor to cease requiring permits for temporary signs and abandon her practice of removing unpermitted signs from private property until City Council has the opportunity to examine and amend its ordinance...[more]

The Crime in Writing True Crime: An Author’s Notebook

By Suzy Spencer: Around 11 AM on June 26, 2001, six days and one hour after Andrea Yates summoned Houston police to her suburban, middle-class house and confessed that she’d drowned her children, St. Martin’s Press contracted me to write a book about the case. Simultaneously, Judge Belinda Hill of the 230th District Court in Harris County, Texas, the presiding judge on the case, placed a gag order on all involved cops, investigators, attorneys and witnesses. Yates’ husband, Russell Yates, was served the gag order at church that night while attending his dead children’s visitation...[more]

The Reporter's Privilege:  Unresolved

By Douglas Lee, Esq.: When the U.S. Supreme Court on April 15 announced the cases it had most recently accepted, it was difficult to determine which was more surprising — that Victor Moseley’s sex shop will get its day in the U.S. Supreme Court or that Vanessa Leggett won’t get hers...[more]

The Court vs. the Press: A Case in Point

By Douglas Lee, Esq.: All’s well that ends well. No harm, no foul. Hakuna matata. However phrased, the notion that we needn’t worry about the little things is a dangerous one in the daily struggle to preserve individual liberties. Consider, for example, the trial of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who has admitted to drowning her five children. While the psychiatrists dueling about her sanity are quite properly the story, we would be remiss to ignore the affronts against the First Amendment that have marked this case since its beginning...[more]

The Risks of Liberty

By Devon Munro: It was a beautiful day as I sat in my office in central Virginia and listened to the news reports recycling the same bits of information, listened to reporters grilling our government for the sensitive details of our military plans so they could proudly present them to the entire world. I turned towards the screen only when it showed pictures of the rubble again. All day long, as the day before, no survivors were recovered...[more]

No Regrets About Developing PGP

By Philip Zimmermann: 24 September 2001 The Friday September 21st Washington Post carried an article by Ariana Cha that I feel misrepresents my views on the role of PGP encryption software in the September 11th terrorist attacks. She interviewed me on Monday September 17th, and we talked about how I felt about the possibility that the terrorists might have used PGP in planning their attack. The article states that as the inventor of PGP, I was "overwhelmed with feelings of guilt". I never implied that in the interview, and specifically went out of my way to emphasize to her that that was not the case, and made her repeat back to me this point so that she would not get it wrong in the article. This misrepresentation is serious, because it implies that under the duress of terrorism I have changed my principles on the importance of cryptography for protecting privacy and civil liberties in the information age...[more]

American Phoenix:
The World Trade Center Must Rise From the Ashes

By Michael Giorgino: The World Trade Center must rise again. Those magnificent towers, blasted into ruins by terrorists, must once again soar above New York’s skyline. Our slaughtered countrymen must be avenged. Our enemies must be destroyed. This act must not stand! [more]

The United Nations Commission On Human Wrongs

By Bruce Herschensohn: In May of 1975 Daniel Moynihan became the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He resigned nine months later. Upon his leaving the U.N. he gave three definitions of that organization: "a theater of the absurd, a decomposing corpse, and an insane asylum."[more]


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In Our OpinionGuest Commentary

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