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In Our Opinion

Senator Lieberman Jumps onto the Junk Food Wagon

"Every third American devotes himself to improving and uplifting his fellow-citizen, usually by force." — H.L. Mencken Senator Joe Lieberman has just become that third American. Earlier this month, the Connecticut Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate announced that he is calling for a federal investigation into the marketing practices of "junk food" companies...[more]

Your Government (and the Ever Helpful Trial Lawyers) at Work: The Disgraceful Saga of MTBE (Short Version)

Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) was probably not a subject of your Thanksgiving dinner discussions. Nonetheless, only days earlier, a provision regarding MTBE was the primary factor in the 11th hour U.S. Senate scuttling of this year’s energy bill...[more]

Affirmative Action Aftershocks

The legal landscape of the Equal Protection Clause is only now beginning to feel the aftershocks of the constitutional earthquake that shook a generation’s worth of jurisprudence when a bare majority of the U.S. Supreme Court held that an applicant’s race could be a factor in college admissions despite the Fourteenth Amendment...[more]

Senator Kennedy and the Other N-Word

When Senator Kennedy used that other N-Word last week, he did not specify to whom he was referring. He didn’t have to. The targets of his pejorative are those nominees for the federal bench whose confirmations are being and will be blocked by Senator Kennedy and others at the behest of the organized left...[more]

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: The Plight for Private Property Rights

It is interesting to follow the developments of the newly liberated Iraq and to compare the activities there to those happening at home. The Iraqi Governing Council is tasked with the job of creating a Constitution and as Jay Leno has said, "maybe we should send them ours since we’re not using it." After all, how can we as Americans guide others when we allow our own government to infringe on our own basic rights here at home?...[more]

CFIF Names Kay Daly Senior Fellow

The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) is pleased to announce that Kay Daly has joined its team as a Senior Fellow effective November 1. Daly is a frequently published writer (Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Investors Business Daily, National Review Online, Worldnetdaily.com, Opeds.com, Townhall.com, and many others), a "blogger" with SouthernAppealblogspot.com, speechwriter and associate editor of "Making Government Work: A Conservative Agenda for the States."...{more]

Pennsylvania’s Reality Check

For the past two years, states have repeated the same fire drill: increasing spending while increasing taxes and threatening program cuts. Yes, the country experienced an economic slowdown and mild recession in 2001. But the recession is over; it has been for two years. Not only has the U.S. Department of Commerce recently reported record revenue collections by state and local governments for 2002 ($872 billion in 2002), Americans just received the good news that the nation’s GDP grew by 7.2% in the third quarter of this year (the highest growth rate in almost 20 years)...[more]

Wanted: A Mute to Serve on the D.C. Circuit

Looking for a new job? Perhaps you should watch the classified advertisements for an employment opportunity to serve as judge on one of our Nation’s most influential courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. After all, the classifieds appear to be the only place left where President Bush can search for a nominee who meets the criteria of those Senators filibustering multiple judicial nominations. Candidates who have any personal opinions espoused in a speech or included in an article simply need not apply...[more]

The ‘Nuclear Option’

It’s been more than a quarter century since a simple majority of the U.S. Senate has employed a parliamentary procedure ominously known as the "nuclear option" to effect a change in the body’s Standing Rules. Back then, in 1975, it was a bare Democratic majority that mustered the will to force a change in Rule XXII, the "cloture rule," decreasing the number of votes required to break a filibuster from two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, to the current level of three-fifths of the body, or 60 votes...[more]

Illinois, a Dynamic State?

Armed with the technology to finally refute the policies of tax-and-spend politicians, the Illinois Policy Institute has the tools to separate reality from fiction regarding Illinois’ state tax policies...[more]

Sports Betting:
The National Football League Versus the Trial Lawyers

Move over NFL, NBA, WNBA and NHL. A new betting line may soon take over Vegas sports lounges. That new "sport" in town, NDPL, is becoming increasingly popular on the courts. Strike that, make it "in the courts." The NDPL, National Deep Pockets League, has lawyers and plaintiffs racing to America’s courthouses to file lawsuits in an attempt to score big payouts against deep pockets, with the NFL becoming the most recent opponent of the NDPL...[more]

Colonel Lowell’s Classroom

Colonel Lowell was my first U.S. History teacher. He had a patch over his eye and walked around with one of those long, wooden pointer sticks. He spoke with a heavy New England accent and his tone resembled something of a bark. We followed the same routine in every class — come in, sit down, don’t talk and begin copying the day’s notes from the blackboard. My classmates and I would judge a particular day as a "good" one if only four sections of chalkboard were filled with notes instead of the usual six or seven. Colonel Lowell would begin his lecture as we diligently copied the notes from the board. If you fell asleep, he smacked his wooden stick on your desk. He kept the notes for each section of his lecture hidden behind white screens and only revealed the contents when he was ready. Those with slow penmanship were forced to stay after class to finish copying the notes from the board — the Colonel’s orders...[more]

Driving While Drowsy?

Add getting enough sleep to the lengthy list of requirements for driving, at least on the highways and thoroughfares of New Jersey. The state recently became the first in the nation to make it a criminal offense for a driver to get behind the wheel while being too sleepy — committing a DWD, Driving While Drowsy, if you will...[more]

Center for Individual Freedom Director Publishes Novel: Bruce Herschensohn’s Passport

Center for Individual Freedom Director Bruce Herschensohn has just published Passport — an epic novel of the Cold War (ibooks, $25.95) to stunning advance acclaim from a Who’s Who of American Conservatism. Spanning almost four decades in the lives of twelve characters intimately caught up in the turbulent events that altered the world — and the place of the U.S. in it -- Passport is as exotic in locale as it is sweeping in scope, as compelling in its storytelling as it is true to history and the world leaders who made it...[more]

Eragon: Do Try This at Home

Christopher Paolini is the author of Eragon, an elaborate fantasy novel that was last week number three on The New York Times bestseller list for children’s books. Christopher Paolini was 15 years old when he wrote the book. Christopher Paolini has been completely home-schooled by his parents...[more]

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

What a difference reality makes. Three weeks ago, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit unanimously told us that California couldn’t hold its constitutionally called Gubernatorial Recall Election on Tuesday, October 7, 2003, because "forty-four percent of the electorate will be forced to use a voting system so flawed that the Secretary of State has officially deemed it ‘unacceptable’ and banned its use in all future elections." The judges were objecting to California’s continued regional use of punch card ballots and VotoMatic voting equipment because, according to their decision, such methods are so plagued with "inherent defects … that approximately 40,000 voters who travel to the polls and cast their ballot will not have their vote counted at all." Fast forward to Wednesday, October 8, 2003 – or nearly eight million votes later – and exactly none of these judicial statements are true...[more]

Center Urges House Committee to Investigate Greenpeace

In a letter reproduced here, the Center for Individual Freedom urged the House Committee on Ways and Means investigate and hold hearings on abuses of tax-exempt status by non-profit organizations in general, and violations committed by the group Greenpeace in particular.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

CFIF History & Civics Quiz

Do you know when the Declaration of Independence was signed? How about the U.S. Constitution? Do you know what the first ten amendments to the Constitution are called? If you answered "no" to any or all of the questions, you are not alone. Sadly, most Americans do not know the basics about our nation's history and government. Take the CFIF History & Civics Quiz and test your knowledge...[more]

Enacting McCain-Feingold By ‘Buying Time’

As the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court draft the decision that will determine the constitutional fate of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), also known as McCain Feingold, they probably won’t be relying on two studies commissioned and circulated by "reformers" as unbiased scholarly evidence of the law’s constitutionality. Indeed, the rigors of the BCRA litigation have exposed that the two studies – commissioned, conducted, and published by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law (Brennan Center) and submitted to and relied upon by members of Congress when passing BCRA – were little more than misinformation fed to our elected representatives with the goal of enacting McCain-Feingold at any cost...[more]

CFIF Assistant General Counsel Tells University of Virginia Conference That McCain-Feingold, Legal Uncertainty Gags Advocacy Groups

The Assistant General Counsel of the Center for Individual Freedom, Reid Alan Cox, told a conference of academic experts on campaign finance Tuesday that both the actual restrictions contained in and the legal uncertainty surrounding the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, popularly known as McCain-Feingold, have effectively silenced non-profit ideological interest groups since the law went into effect after the last Congressional elections. Cox was one of six panelists invited to discuss the topic of "Coping With BCRA" at the conference entitled "Reconsidering Campaign Finance Reform"...[more]

Hold Our Calls: Conflict over the Do Not Call List

The Center for Individual Freedom does not have a unified position on the Do Not Call List. In fact, internal disagreement is becoming so heated that potential civil war looms, with one brother wearing blue, one sister wearing gray (provided the rest of us stipulate that gray is the new black)...[more]

The Robed Recall

Eight Days, eleven judges, and thirteen double-spaced pages later, the California Recall Election is back on again. Returned to its original calendar date of Tuesday, October 7, 2003, by an en banc (or literally "full bench") panel of the same U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit from which three other judges had, just a week earlier, ruled the race had to be put off until March 2004 because the use of VotoMatic punchcard ballots could hypothetically disenfranchise voters violating both the federal Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution...[more]

Burning the Bridges to Madison County: Legal Reform Heats Up

Author Robert James Waller popularized Madison County, Iowa – the birthplace of John Wayne – in the novel The Bridges of Madison County. But another Madison County, this one in Illinois, is famous for a very different, but just as lucrative, reason. Madison County – Illinois, that is – is the unofficial class action capital of the United States; the single county where trial lawyers file more class action lawsuits than anywhere else, and also home to some of the country’s largest damage awards...[more]

Will Hurricane Isabel Wash Away the Trial Lawyers?

With the mid-Atlantic Coast bracing itself under the significant threat of Hurricane Isabel, some East Coast residents wisely are preparing for the worst. News stations from the Carolinas to New England are tracking the storm and reporting live from local home improvement and grocery stores bustling with shoppers augmenting their hurricane-proof supplies...[more]

The Center for Individual Freedom Names Karen Bailey Vice President of Public Affairs

The Center for Individual Freedom today is pleased to announce that Karen Bailey has joined its team as Vice President of Public Affairs. Karen’s responsibilities will include the strategic planning and execution of advocacy campaigns focused on state and federal legislation keeping in the spirit of the Center’s mission -- to protect individual freedom and individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Center focuses on a broad number of issues including judicial confirmations, legal reform, taxation, campaign finance reform, energy and technology, among others...[more]

The Second Monday in September

It won’t be a quiet recess day at the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. Instead, this year on September 8th, the halls will be bustling with attorneys, reporters, and interested Court watchers, and the justices will have already returned to our nation’s capital ready to emerge from behind the curtains for their first sitting this fall. Monday, if you don’t already know, is the day the Court will hear four full hours of arguments in the most important political speech case to be decided by the Court in more than a quarter century – namely the consolidated constitutional challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

Big Blind Brother: Tampa Abandons Facial Recognition Policing

While all good liberals were undoubtedly frolicking away the remnants of summer in the pristine wilderness of ANWR and the rest of us were hurriedly spending our tax cuts before President Dean takes them back, the Tampa, Florida police department made an announcement. After a highly publicized and controversial two-year test, the city is discontinuing the use of facial recognition technology...[more]

Center Urges Return to Tried-and-True Civics Courses

Farmington Public Schools recently revised the high school curriculum eliminating the requirement of 12th grade American Government and substituting a new required course in International Studies. In a letter reproduced here, the Center informs public school officials about the necessities of maintaining rigorous and thoughtful curricula that include coursework on American history and government...[more]

Jeffrey Mazzella Named Executive Director of Center for Individual Freedom

The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) today is pleased to announce the appointment of Jeffrey L. Mazzella as Executive Director effective August 1, 2003. For the past two and a half years, Mr. Mazzella has headed up CFIF's legislative and public affairs department where he was responsible for the development and implementation of the organization's legislative and regulatory agenda...[more]

Sue the Lawyers

"Enough is enough." That is the new message from corporate America. After suffering through the deluge of class action attacks against corporations that sell products ranging from hamburgers to medical equipment to automobiles, corporate boardrooms are taking the offensive against the increasing number of vexatious litigants...[more]

'A 25-Year License to Violate the Constitution'

The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken, and according to a slim five justice majority in Grutter v. Bollinger, No. 02-241, "race unfortunately still matters." In fact, despite constitutional and statutory prohibitions to the contrary -- namely, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- apparently race matters enough that a majority of the High Court is willing simply to "take [colleges and universities] at [their] word" that they need to discriminate on the basis of skin color and ethnic heritage in order to admit and enroll racially diverse student bodies...[more]

A High School International Affairs Program Crosses the Line to Propagandizing

"Learn today . . . Lead tomorrow". That is the public relations campaign motto adopted this year by the Michigan School Public Relations Association, the Michigan Department of Education and the Michigan Education Association. A good motto in principle, but a terrible one in practice if the public school students are learning lessons that undermine American values and leadership...[more]

Benign 'Strict Scrutiny'?

Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the two most anticipated rulings of this term -- decisions resolving, at least for now, the constitutionality of race-conscious affirmative action programs at institutions of higher education. In split decisions, the Court ruled that colleges and universities can consider an applicant's race as a "plus" factor supporting admission, but, at the same time, such racial preferences must be flexibly used "in the context of individualized consideration of each and every applicant" and should be part of a broader admissions policy that considers "'all pertinent elements of diversity.'"...[more]

McDonald's Turns to the Dark Side

We have frequently railed against those who seem compelled by either greed or irresponsibility to file frivolous lawsuits against McDonald's, among a variety of favorite targets. Whether plaintiffs or their attorneys (mostly the latter), the offenders are usually just legal entrepreneurs, seeking deep pocket paydays from the most tenuous of claims...[more]

The Criminalization of Responsibility:
Making Corporate Officers Guilty for the Acts of Their Employees


For centuries, the law in Western nations was guided by the fundamental principle that an individual could only be prosecuted and convicted of a crime if he willfully or knowingly committed an unlawful act. Classic Anglo-American legal theory reflected this core belief in its requirement that the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused consummated the criminal offense with both an actus reus (a criminal act) and a mens rea (a criminal intent). Thus, criminal sanctions were never intended to punish bad thoughts remaining unmanifested by action nor bad acts occurring unwittingly or by accident. The former category was to be resolved by a higher spiritual authority and the latter could properly be resolved by the civil tort liability system...[more]

Martha Burk's Double Standard

Last week, Burk saw the lights and cameras and decided to resurface in order to capitalize on media frenzy over Annika Sorenstam's appearance at the PGA's Bank of America Colonial tournament. Burk's take on Annika: Good for her, bad for women's sports. "I am not an advocate of integrating sports. It would destroy women's sports. What's the point of putting women at a natural disadvantage? We're not idiots. We know there are physical differences between men and women," Burk is quoted as saying...[more]

Justice At What Price? The Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel

At a long-delayed preliminary hearing held this week, a federal judge ruled that Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols can be tried on state charges alleging 160 counts of first degree murder in connection with the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. Nichols was already convicted in 1997 of federal conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter charges for the deaths of eight law enforcement officers in the bombing. He is serving a life prison sentence for his federal convictions because the jury deadlocked over whether to give him the death penalty, and the judge, to whom the sentencing fell, could impose no more than life without parole...[more]

HMO End Run at the FDA

Allergy season came a little earlier and is a little more severe for most sufferers this year. With millions of sniffling, sneezing, sinus-clogged Americans grabbing for their tissues, a proposal under consideration by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may have them reaching for their wallets...[more]

Analogizing Annika and Augusta

When the Masters ended last month with a defeated Martha Burk hightailing it out of Augusta, we all thought that would be the last time we read the words "golf" and "First Amendment" in the same sentence. Thanks to Annika Sorenstam's courage and Vijay Singh's ignorant comments, we again get an opportunity to educate the sports world about our Constitution...[more]

Heartache Over HIPAA

Churchgoers in a small New England town were astonished by an announcement from the pulpit last Sunday that due to new federal medical privacy legislation there no longer would be a prayer list or mention of ailing parishioners or family members in church. In Massachusetts, a mother's call to her pediatrician's office grew heated recently when a nurse, citing the new federal privacy laws, repeatedly refused to release the results of medical tests performed on the woman's seven-month-old son. These are but some of the countless unintended consequences of the law known as HIPAA and its extensive privacy regulations which took effect on April 14, 2003...[more]

Being and Nothingness: The Democratic Presidential Candidates' Conundrum

A month ago, 69 percent of Democrats responding to a Pew Research Center poll could not name any of the Democratic candidates for president, of which there are now nine. Ho Boy, you say. Those folks just aren't with it. Perhaps, but we're betting you can't name Snow White's seven dwarfs, and that's useful information...[more]

The Bijudicial Campaign Reform Act of 2003

Late last Friday, a specially appointed panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued its ruling in the consolidated constitutional challenges brought against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

Plagiarism: A Sign of The Times?

They say "history has a way of repeating itself." Especially if you're Doris Kearns Goodwin or the late Stephen Ambrose. These noted historians and accused plagiarists are but two in a long line of those who have taken liberties with the (already) written word...[more]

John Edwards: Stayin' Alive; Stayin' Alive

When we wrote last week about U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards' campaign contributions from his trial lawyer cronies, including a criminal investigation of some of them by the Justice Department, we omitted part of the original Washington Post story. We did so purposefully because that part, brief though it was, is worth special consideration...[more]

New Report Justifies Judicial Need to Continue to
Reallocate Fault in Product Liability Litigation

This week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a notice saying that years after products are recalled or safety warnings are issued, those same products continue to kill and injure. Many consumer products deemed hazardous and included on the CPSC list have previously received substantial attention because they were recalled or addressed under government safety standards...[more]

John Edwards: An Oops for the Trial Lawyers' Presidential Candidate

It is no secret that John Edwards, the Democratic U.S. Senator from North Carolina, is the trial lawyers' anointed candidate for president. He was a trial lawyer himself before multimillion dollar verdicts and audiences of only 12 people at a time no longer satisfied his compulsion to serve humanity...[more]

Justice, Not Magic, Returns Harry Potter Series to Library Bookshelves

With the wave of a gavel and not a magic wand, Chief Judge Jimm Larry Hendren of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas granted a family's request to remove access restrictions and place the Harry Potter series back on library bookshelves available to readers of all ages...[more]

Martha Burk's Bad Media Day: An Up Close and Personal Account

Last week, Augusta National Golf Club detractor and chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, Martha Burk, demonstrated her real face on national television. Apparently angry that a debate with me airing on CNNfn's "The Flip Side" had been cut short, Burk ripped out her earpiece, made an inappropriate comment and scrambled to exit the studio in a fit of rage...[more]

The Collected Quotations of "Baghdad Bob," Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf: The Iraqi Minister of DisInformation

March 23, 2003
"In Umm Qasr, the fighting is fierce and we have inflicted many damages. The stupid enemy, the Americans and British, failed completely. They're not making any penetration."...[more]

CFIF General Counsel Reporting From Augusta: Crying Wolf is the Only Sound from Burk Protestors at The Masters

CFIF General Counsel Renee Giachino is inside the gates of the Augusta National Golf Club this week during the historic Masters tournament to support the private club's First Amendment rights to choose its membership, despite pressure from special interest groups attempting to exploit the prominence of The Masters...[more]

Center Foundation Chairman to Assist Iraq

David M. Nummy, Chairman of the Board of the Center for Individual Freedom Foundation, has joined a group of distinguished civilian advisors currently preparing to provide critical transitional support to the people of Iraq, as they seek to emerge from decades of dictatorship and oppression...[more]

CFIF Assistant General Counsel Debates Jesse Jackson on Affirmative Action Admissions

The Center for Individual Freedom's Assistant General Counsel, Reid Alan Cox, took on the issue of race-based college and law school admissions and, most notably, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, at a panel discussion held Monday night at the Georgetown University Law Center...[more]

Martha: There's a Big Difference between Iraqi Sandstorms
and Country Club Sand Traps

In what can only be described as a vile and opportunistic attempt to reinsert herself into the media spotlight, self-promoting feminist Martha Burk stooped to an all-time low last week when, on the steps of New York City Hall, she proclaimed: "With close to a quarter-million women in the armed services defending the values of the United States, many of them in Iraq, we think it is offensive to them for CBS to showcase a venue that excludes them." Of course, Burk was referring to the network's exclusive coverage of golf's most prestigious tournament, the Masters, held at the private Augusta National Golf Club...[more]

The Not So Little Secret of Statutory Language

The U.S. Supreme Court taught the owners of well-known trademarks the basics of legal reading and writing last week. (Make that "statutory construction and drafting" for all the licensed attorneys out there.)...[more]

What Do Harry Potter, Captain Underpants and Huck Finn Have in Common?

Still three months away from the scheduled release of the fifth in the best-selling series by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter is back in the news and topping the charts. But this time it's not The New York Times Bestseller List or the weekend box office numbers. According to the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, Harry Potter tops the list of books most challenged in 2002...[more]

9th Circuit Upholds Pledge Decision

Solidifying its reputation as a "runaway train of liberal activism," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last week refused to reconsider its controversial decision over the Pledge of Allegiance...[more]

Warning!

The following poem contains language deemed sufficiently offensive by a judge to warrant the civil trial of a young Southwest Airlines flight attendant...[more]

McLawsuit Reheated: It Doesn't Taste Any Better

The McFatties are back. A month after a federal district judge dismissed their class action lawsuit against McDonald's, a group of overweight children and their parents filed a new complaint against the fast food giant maintaining that Ronald, Grimace and the Hamburglar must pay up for childhood obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease...[more]

When Dinner with the Governor Could Be a Felony
McCain-Feingold 101: (For Those Who Passed It)

It is not uncommon for the U.S. Congress to pass measures that those voting for them have neither read nor understood. Rarely does that matter much to those doing the passing, since the impact is predominantly on the rest of us. Besides, all legislation is for our own good, even when we don't comprehend that, and we should just be grateful, shoulder the consequences and accept the wisdom of the ignorant and inept...[more]

Random Observations on Politics and Culture

• An estimated 40 million Americans watched the conclusion of "Joe Millionaire," establishing basic qualifications to become crash test dummies, human shields or lemmings. • Boycotting french fries is not precisely the point. • Those of you who need snow removal, potholes repaired or traffic lights calibrated will just have to wait a while. Your city council is too busy issuing resolutions condemning war, pestilence and famine...[more]

Martha Burk's Constitutional Lesson Continues

You'll have to forgive Martha Burk; she's no constitutional scholar. For months, the Center for Individual Freedom has been trying to teach the Chairman (meant gender-neutrally, of course) of the National Council of Women's Organizations about those 45 words known as the First Amendment, specifically, the freedom of association...[more]

A Legal System Going to the Dogs

"Who Let the Dogs Out" may be an entirely different tune if animal rights advocates get their way in Colorado. In fact, dogcatchers, veterinarians, pet groomers, pet sitters and even those chic new pet salons could find themselves facing increased liability for letting the dogs out should harm then come to Lassie, Benji, Spike or Fluffy...[more]

The Road to Democracy Starts at the Schoolhouse Door; Teaching our Children Beyond the "Three Rs"

Gone are simpler days when students were taught the "Three Rs" -- reading, writing and arithmetic. Today, the schools confront children with complicated social algorithms involving issues such as dress codes, bans on "junk food," zero tolerance disciplinary policies, and political correctness. Undoubtedly, these "educational" changes have come at the expense of more objective lessons that might actually improve academic performance. But, more importantly, the "new curriculum" has sacrificed vigorous public education founded on free expression...[more]

Smallpox: The Risk of Attack vs. the Risk of Vaccination

Smallpox, considered to have been the worst disease known to man, is the only one ever to be eradicated. That is an unparalleled accomplishment of progressive medicine, organization and worldwide commitment. In the horrifying, potentially cataclysmic new world of terrorism, it may also be temporary...[more]

Law School Admissions to the University of Michigan... By the Numbers

• 100% ... the percentage of African-American, Hispanic, and Native American applicants admitted in 2000 with grade point averages between 3.00 and 3.24 (B) and LSAT scores between 156-158 (between the 70th and 80th percentiles nationally) • 0% ... the percentage of Asian and Caucasian applicants admitted in 2000 with grade point averages between 3.00 and 3.24 (B) and LSAT scores between 156-158 (between the 70th and 80th percentiles nationally)...[more]

CFIF Executive Director to Discuss Campaign Finance "Reform" at 30th Anniversary of CPAC

Center for Individual Freedom Executive Director Eric Schippers will be joining Judge Kenneth Starr of Kirkland & Ellis and election law expert Cleta Mitchell of Foley & Lardner for a panel discussion on the ongoing lawsuit over the McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). The panel, Campaign Finance Reform: Does the 1st Amendment Mean Anything, will be featured at the 30th anniversary of CPAC on Saturday, February 1 at 11:00 a.m. at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia. The discussion will be moderated by Southeastern Legal Foundation President Phil Kent...[more]

Legacies:  The "Where's Waldo" of Constitutional Law

Having filed what we believe is a fairly cogent brief against the University of Michigan's unconstitutional admissions policies, we have a modicum of interest in the public debate that is as inevitable as the sun rising...[more]

Undergraduate Admissions to the University of Michigan... By the Numbers

• 100... the minimum number or points an applicant needs to be guaranteed admission • 20... the number of points an applicant receives for being African-American, Hispanic, or Native American  • 0... the number of points an applicant receives for being Arab, Asian, or Caucasian...[more]

From Bang to Whimper: Final Rites for Arming America

When we last wrote on the shameful saga of Emory University history professor Michael Bellesiles in October, 2002, he had just resigned that job. His book, Arming America: the Origins of a National Gun Culture, had been discredited as a work of falsified, misrepresented and exaggerated research...[more]

"Beating a Dead Horse"

Chief Justice William Rehnquist kicked off the New Year with a familiar mantra, pleading with Congress to help extricate the federal judiciary from its current crisis of overcrowded dockets, too few judges and inadequate resources. "The 2002 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary is my 17th," Rehnquist wrote. "As I look back on these reports, I am struck by the number of issues that seem regularly to crop up, or perhaps never go away - judicial vacancies, the need for additional judgeships, judges' salaries, judicial appropriations."...[more]

Medical Professional Liability Crisis Bleeds Across America

Get out the tourniquet because the shark bites have America bleeding again. From Pennsylvania to Florida to Texas, and most states in between, victims of the shark (AKA trial lawyer) attacks are drowning in the Litigation Sea. National headlines make it increasingly apparent that a rise in malpractice lawsuits has caused a swell in professional liability insurance premiums, with the current medical liability crisis driving up health care costs and resulting in less access to care...[more]

Bigfoot Cloned and Other Before Breakfast Beliefs

Ray Wallace, a creator of Bigfoot, died late last year. His family subsequently revealed the origin of the hoax that at times since 1958 has enthralled a nation, enriched tabloid newspapers and sent hordes of Bigfoot Believers tromping through the woods of the Pacific Northwest in quest of the mythical creature...[more]


Guest Commentary

Tyranny of the Minority: Newdow’s Methods Threaten Far More than the Pledge of Allegiance

By Erin Murphy: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit drew criticism from both ends of the spectrum last year when it ruled that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional. Even Congress managed to unite on the issue, and most Americans anxiously anticipate an overruling next year when the case is decided by the Supreme Court. But more troubling than the possibility of the High Court declaring us a Godless nation is the legitimacy such a ruling would grant to the Rev. Dr. Michael Newdow, who brought the case...[more]

Send in the Clowns: Atheist Reverend to Argue His "Under God" Challenge Before High Court

By Erin Murphy: The Court recently granted atheist Michael Newdow permission to represent himself in his suit to remove "under God" from the Pledge. Newdow — lawyer, medical doctor and founder and reverend of the First Amendmist Church of True Science — doesn’t technically have standing to argue before the High Court because he has been a member of the bar for less than the required three years, but the Court agreed to let him argue anyway...[more]

Pass on the Tofurky, Please
PETA Calls for Pardoning of All Turkeys This Thanksgiving

By Erin Murphy: As with many aspects of American society, Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn’t be complete without a healthy helping of guilt. For most, the purported hypocrisy of celebrating our friendship with a people whose land and lives we allegedly stole will suffice. But in the spirit of Thanksgiving excess and abundance, PETA has cooked up another accusation to stir our consciousness: capital punishment of turkeys...[more]

Boxer Breaks a Promise: The Expected Filibuster of 9th Circuit Nominee Carolyn Kuhl Perpetuates a Partisan Temper Tantrum

By Congressman Darrell Issa: Earlier this year, during the confirmation process of Federal Appeals Court nominee Miguel Estrada, Sen. Barbara Boxer made a promise. Boxer said that while she supported the filibuster of Miguel Estrada she would not use the filibuster to block the President's nominees if they would simply answer the Senate's questions...[more]

The Judicial System Is Anything But Just

By Paul LaRose, M.D: Finally, we have a medical liability reform bill in Florida, for what it’s worth. By all accounts, it doesn’t appear to be worth much. We’ll just have to wait and see if our insurance premiums stabilize and if we even have insurance companies left in the state...[more]

Intellectual Diversity Endangered

By Anne Neal: One pundit on higher education has described our colleges and universities as islands of oppression in a sea of freedom. While the comment is humorous, the observation is quite serious. The lack of intellectual diversity on our college and university campuses is increasingly troublesome and of profound concern to all of us interested in the education of our next generation of leaders...[more]

Accessing the Internet

By Senator George Allen: The Senate will soon vote on The Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act (S. 150), my bill that permanently prohibits taxes on a consumer's ability to access the Internet. This law should and must pass to advance Internet access and digital opportunity for all people in the United States...[more]

Setting the Record Straight on Judge Pickering

By Senator Orrin G. Hatch: In 1962, the Governor of Mississippi violated an order of the United States Supreme Court and personally barred James Meredith, a black student, from enrolling at the University of Mississippi.  It took hundreds of United States Marshals and National Guard soldiers, acting under the direction of President Kennedy, to ensure his enrollment.  Wide-scale rioting ensued.  Dozens of U.S. Marshals were shot; hundreds of people were injured; two men were killed.  This is the Mississippi that still existed when Judge Charles Pickering sent his young children to newly integrated public schools in Jones County, Mississippi, in the 1960s...[more]

Globalizing the ‘Supreme Law of the Land’?

By Christopher Armstrong: In a rare television interview on ABC’s Sunday morning public affairs show "This Week," Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer commented in July that "[t]hrough commerce, through globalization, through the spread of democratic institutions, through immigration to America, it's becoming more and more one world of many different kinds of people. And how they're going to live together across the world will be the challenge, and whether our Constitution and how it fits into the governing documents of other nations, I think will be a challenge for the next generations."...[more]

An Econ Lesson for Governor Blagojevich

By Greg Blankenship: When government hikes taxes government tends to receive less revenue than expected, and when government cuts taxes government tends to lose less revenue than opponents of tax cuts contend.  This is because changes in tax policy influence the way economic actors behave.  It’s simple — really — if you want less of something tax it, if you want more,  don’t...[more]

Patriot Day

By Bruce Herschensohn: A few nights ago I came home late and turned on television and there was a movie, a comedy filmed in New York made maybe about a decade ago. The skyline was behind the lead actor and actress who were talking to each other, and there in the far distance in lower Manhattan were the two towers of the World Trade Center standing high above the rest of the city. It was chilling to suddenly see those towers standing alive...[more]

Counting the Cloture Votes: Analyzing Senators’ Support for Judicial Nomination Filibusters

By Thomas L. Jipping: In the days prior to adjourning for its August 2003 recess, the U.S. Senate voted against ending debate on three nominations to the U.S. Courts of Appeal. Some say these filibusters, and the others said to be coming in the months ahead, are part of an unprecedented Democrat-led obstruction campaign. But Democrats say Republicans have done the same thing in the past. These competing claims, and the certainty that efforts to end judicial nomination filibusters will continue when the Senate returns in September, make this a good time objectively to examine the historical record.

To read more, visit the Center for Individual Freedom Foundation.

Religious Freedom and Educational Choice Don't Conflict

By Christopher J. Armstrong For reasons that defy understanding, opponents of school voucher programs have resurrected a thoroughly defeated argument -- namely, that the use of public funds for tuition at religious schools is unconstitutional...[more]

Affirmative Action Debate Continues In Dueling Dispatches

Reprinted below are letters exchanged between U.S. Congressman John Dingell (D. MI) and Mr. Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Coalition. We were informed by Mr. Connerly that prior to receiving Rep. Dingell's "butt-out" letter, Mr. Connerly had "no direct and personal contact with the man." According to Mr. Connerly, Rep. Dingell "was responding, without solicitation, to my announcement that I would assist in trying to qualify for the ballot an initiative much like California's 209 to eliminate race preferences in Michigan."...[more]

University of California Rejects 'Reason in the Schools'?

By Stephen I. Miran: In the liberal tradition, students ought not to be indoctrinated, but rather presented with careful analyses of various perspectives, eventually to analyze things themselves. As Thomas Jefferson said in his first Inaugural Address, “Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is free to combat it.” This was, until recently, an underlying tenet of the University of California’s academic freedom policy, which advocated dispassionate analysis and dissection of polarized viewpoints. But new proposals by University officials seek to revise its academic freedom policy to allow greater passion in the classroom, all while throwing away students’ rights against indoctrination...[more]

Judicial Nominees: Levin, Stabenow must help end deadlock; it clogs up courts

By Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox: "He broke it." "No, she did." "But he started it." Is this the typical "conversation" I hear every night when I get home to my three youngest kids? Nope. Unfortunately, this is the essence of the debate that the U. S. Senate, including our own U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, is having over blocking a vote on President George W. Bush's judicial nominees to the federal court of appeals...[more]

Extra Innings for Baseball Litigation

By Christopher J. Armstrong: Alex Popov went to a ballgame, caught a ball, lost the ball, filed a lawsuit, lost the ball again, and at the end of the game may end up losing his shirt. The dispute began in October 2001 when baseball star Barry Bonds hit his record-setting 73rd homerun. The feat marked a major league record for single-season homeruns, and is a moment which will be enshrined in baseball history...[more]

Filtering the First Amendment

By Christopher J. Armstrong: On Monday, the Supreme Court held that the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) does not violate the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause. The decision, United States v American Library Association, No. 02-361, paves the way for the Act to be enforced against public libraries across the nation...[more]

The New Glass Ceiling

By John C. Eastman: Stellar credentials and a "well-qualified" rating from the American Bar Association, its highest, following her nomination to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals should have made the road to confirmation an easy one for Judge Carolyn Kuhl...[more]

Class Action Reform Gets Verdict in the House, Jury Still Out in the Senate

By Christopher Armstrong: The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed the Class Action Fairness Act of 2003 (CAFA) by a vote of 253 to 170. The bill would make it easier for defendants to move class actions into federal court by expanding federal jurisdiction and is a necessary first step in providing uniform standards for such lawsuits and preventing forum shopping by plaintiffs' attorneys. Nevertheless, despite this much-needed reform, CAFA faces considerable opposition in the Senate...[more]

Unveiled by Mugshots, Not the DMV

By Christopher J. Armstrong: The case of a Muslim woman in Florida who sued the state to keep her face shrouded with a veil in her driver's license photo took an interesting turn last week. Sultaana Freeman already had posed for full facial photographs -- albeit in jail -- when mugshots were taken following two arrests in her former home state of Illinois. Of course, the other event in the case was that the state judge hearing this latest crusade taken up by the ACLU ruled that Florida could require Freeman to remove her niqab -- a Muslim veil which covers everything but her eyes -- for her driver's license photo in order to protect public safety and security interests...[more]

Slay the Withholding Beast

Joseph Pickett: Few Americans under 65 realize the withholding box on their pay stubs is a relatively recent addition. Federal withholding of income taxes was a 'temporary' measure enacted during the Second World War as a means to ensure that the government received desperately needed revenue to fund the war effort...[more]

Wishing Our Rights, and America, Away

Joseph Pickett: The San Francisco Gate recently ran this blaring headline, "9th Circuit Rules Individuals Have No Right to Bear Arms." So that's that for the 2nd Amendment? Not quite yet. This is, aftes all, the 9th Circuit Court...[more]

Civil rights guardian, outstanding nominee

By Willie J. Huntley, Jr. (Courtesy of the Mobile Register 2003 All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.): The Washington-headquartered, liberal witch-hunt against President Bush's federal judicial nominees has targeted its next victim, and it is one of our own: Bill Pryor, the attorney general of Alabama...[more]

'Assault Weapons' Bait-and-Switch

By Christopher J. Armstrong
: On Capitol Hill, an effort is underway to renew the "assault weapons" ban passed as part of the Federal Violent Crimes Act of 1994, set to expire in September of 2004. The debate is being framed -- most notably in the media -- with images of villainous machine-guns and talk of automatic weapons "flooding our streets."...[more]

Fixing a Broken Confirmation Process:
Ending Permanent Judicial Nominee Filibusters

By Thomas L. Jipping, J.D:. The Center for Individual Freedom joined Concerned Women for America and more than 30 other organizations in submitting this report to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights following Chairman John Cornyn's (R-TX) hearing: "Judicial Nominations, Filibusters, and the Constitution: When a Majority is Denied Its Right to Consent."

To download the report, click here (PDF)

Nike v. Kasky: The Argument that Just Didn't Do It for Me

By Erik S. Jaffe: Oral argument yesterday in Nike v. Kasky was both more and less interesting than expected. On the plus side, several Justices seemed to be considering either substantially narrowing or shunting to the side the commercial speech doctrine, a position strongly supported by the Center for Individual Freedom in its amicus brief...[more]

Burning to Say Something

By Professor Eugene Volokh: Monday, the Supreme Court partly upheld and partly rejected a Virginia ban on cross-burning. It's tempting to see this case as a victory for those who want to restrict "hate speech" -- tempting but incorrect...[more]

Hate Speech at Columbia is Academic

By U.S. Congressman J.D. Hayworth: Columbia University Assistant Professor of Anthropology Nicholas DeGenova does not like the U.S. military, to say the least...[more]

Malpractice Awards Must Be Brought Under Control

By U.S. Representative Jeff Miller
: "President Bush says frivolous lawsuits have never helped anyone. Yeah, tell that to my new house in Georgetown." This quote, cited from the Raleigh News and Observer, are the words of Sen. John Edwards, presidential candidate and former trial lawyer, speaking at the annual Gridiron dinner at the Capital Hilton in Washington. Although said in jest, this gives some insight to the mindset of many in Congress who oppose medical professional liability insurance reform...[more]

Senate Math — 41 Is Greater Than 59!

By U.S. Senator Zell Miller: A portly British statesman once famously said that "Democracy is based on reason and fair play." But there's nothing reasonable or fair about what's been happening in the Senate recently. The filibuster against Bush-nominee Miguel Estrada is not just an expensive waste of time and taxpayer money, it's also an affront to majority rule, the principle that Democracy operates on everywhere. Everywhere, that is, but the Senate,,,[more]


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