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In Our Opinion

9-11 Funds: Follow the Money…

Perhaps the folks at the United Way and the New York Community Trust felt bad for the American Red Cross, sitting alone atop the Congressional hot seat for the alleged mishandling of 9-11 funds. What else could explain their shelling out $30,000 in "grant" money from their September 11th Fund to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), an Asian-American civil rights group?...[more]

Checkoff Battle Marches On

The U.S. Supreme Court last week denied the petition for a writ of certiorari from Kansas farmer and cattleman Jerry Goetz, who raised a First Amendment challenge to the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985, which established the national Beef Checkoff program...[more]

Confirm the Judges, Mr. Chairman

Senator Leahy’s stated commitment could not be more urgent. The problem is it was made on February 22, 2000, when Mr. Leahy was ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans held the chamber’s majority and Bill Clinton was President of the United States...[more]

Entertainment Industry Wins Its Day in Court

For those following the debate over "free speech" vs. intellectual property rights on the Internet, Wednesday, November 28, 2001, was a day to remember. What occurred was a confluence of legal decisions from federal courts in New York and New Jersey that dealt a severe blow to those seeking to overturn key provisions of the much-maligned Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)...[more]

Center Urges Immediate Senate Action on Comprehensive Energy Plan, Including ANWR Exploration

In a letter to Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), the Center for Individual Freedom urged immediate Senate action on the bipartisan comprehensive energy plan already passed by the House of Representatives, including provisions to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas exploration. "There is no issue more important to our nation’s security than reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil."...[more]

The Genie is Out of the FBI’s "Magic Lantern"

Since the tragic events of September 11, there has been considerable debate over increased government powers to fight the war on terrorism. Some of these new powers may be necessary, while others could result in more harm than good by eroding some of the fundamental freedoms that our constitutional republic requires.

The most recent debate centers on a new technology the FBI is reportedly developing called "Magic Lantern." ... [more]

Copyright Holders Get Burned by DVD Ruling

In a battle that helped define the debate over intellectual property rights versus "free speech" on the Internet, a California state appeals court has lifted an injunction against the online posting of code that can be used to circumvent DVD piracy protections...[more]

New Counterterrorism Law Calls For ID Cards

Hidden in the details of the nation’s sweeping new counterterrorism law was a last-minute provision slipped in by Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) that could require all foreigners to use identification cards to enter the United States...[more]

Center Runs Ad Labeling Senator Byron Dorgan the Internet Tax Man

With state and local taxing authorities and tax-hungry governors standing by to impose new and discriminatory taxes on the Internet and taxes on Internet access, Congress failed to pass an extension of the Internet tax moratorium before it expired on October 21. On October 16, the House of Representatives passed a limited two-year extension of the moratorium, but the Senate failed to follow suit after Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) prevented a vote on the measure. When taxpayers get their first Internet tax bill and want to know who’s responsible, thank Senator Byron Dorgan, the Internet tax man. To view the ad, click here.

Straight Talk About Dissembling Dorgan

The Internet tax moratorium expired on October 21. It did so because one U.S. Senator–Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota–blocked a vote on a House-passed bill that would have extended the ban on Internet taxes for two years...[more]

Exploring ANWR:
Why Two Thousand Acres in Alaska Are a Matter of National Security

Americans are fast adjusting to the reality that the first war of the 21st Century will not be over quickly; it may take years. With that reality comes the responsibility to seriously reexamine long-term needs in light of new national priorities. First and foremost on anyone’s list must be national security...[more]

Ranchers and CIF File Brief in Support of Preliminary Injunction in Beef Checkoff Lawsuit

Attorneys for Jeanne and Steve Charter in Montana and the Center for Individual Freedom (CIF) filed a brief on October 12, 2001, in support of their motion for preliminary injunction in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the mandatory beef promotion program...[more]

To read the full brief in support of motion for preliminary injunction, click here.

The Civil Liberties Coalition

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has announced formation of a massive coalition of groups and individuals to address civil liberties concerns as this country determines the course ahead while still absorbing the aftershocks of 9-11.

The Center for Individual Freedom was not asked to join. We did not volunteer. The individual freedoms of all Americans constitute our basis for existence, but we are more comfortable, for now, with our singular voice, small though it is, than that of a collective formed by an organization which, much too frequently, seems to have lost its way...[more]

Urges U.S. Dairy Producers to Join Fight Over Mandatory Advertising Programs

The Center for Individual Freedom (CIF) on September 24, 2001, announced the launch of an advertising campaign aimed at enlisting the support of U.S. dairy producers in the battle over the nation’s commodity checkoff programs...[more]
To View The Ad Click Here


Through the most graphic and gruesome of images, the attack forces the understanding that we have now experienced a preview of war in the 21st century, where there are no rules of engagement...[more]

That Newfound Religion Will Keep You Out of Jail

Want to confess to a crime but do no time? Forget your lawyer, your shrink and your priest. Just join Alcoholics Anonymous and tell everyone you meet there — even though you know only their first names. It’s okay. A federal judge said so, because AA is a religion.

That is the crudely stated result of one of the most bizarre judicial rulings in recent memory, and courts have to work overtime these days to achieve such distinction...[more]

130 Independent Cattlemen and Nine National, State and Regional Organizations Join Lawsuit Over Mandatory Beef Promotion Program

In a motion filed in Federal District Court in Billings, Montana on September 14, 2001, 130 independent cattle producers and nine organizations joined Montana ranchers Steve and Jeanne Charter and the Center for Individual Freedom in the legal battle over the Beef Checkoff Program. The coalition of cattlemen and agriculture groups, in requesting permission to intervene on the Charter’s behalf, declared the Checkoff "unfair, undemocratic, and unconstitutional." ...[more]

Cattleman Appeals Case Against Beef Checkoff to U.S. Supreme Court

In yet another legal challenge to the constitutionality of the beleaguered mandatory beef promotion program, a petition was filed today at the U.S. Supreme Court by Kansas farmer and cattleman Jerry Goetz, with support from the Center for Individual Freedom...[more]

Ranchers and Center for Individual Freedom
Join Forces in Beef Checkoff Lawsuit

An independent cattle producing family in Montana and the Center for Individual Freedom (CIF) on August 7th filed briefs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the mandatory beef promotion program...[more]

Judge Rules in E-Book Copyright Dispute

In yet another case involving copyright law in the digital age, Judge Sidney H. Stein declined to issue a preliminary injunction against RosettaBooks, an upstart e-book publishing group, that has been publishing electronic versions of books originally printed by Random House... [more]

Rental Cars With an Eye in the Sky

Next time you rent a car, you better be on your best behavior -- you never know who might be watching… [more]

Of Guns and the Law

They started with a bang in the Age of Columbine. Thirty-three cities and counties filed lawsuits against gun manufacturers, aided and abetted by some trial lawyers who hadn’t made a big score since they shook down the tobacco industry, aided and abetted by the states…This is great stuff thought much of the media, which devoted thousands of reports to the lawsuits and every gun horror story they had ever heard... [more]

This is disgraceful, now says Robert Levy, the brilliant constitutional scholar of the Cato Institute who thoroughly dissects the lawsuits in "Pistol Whipped: Baseless Lawsuits, Foolish Laws." To read the full text of Mr. Levy’s paper, reprinted with permission from Mr. Levy, click here.

The E-book Copyright Dispute: Can You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

What is a "book"? What does "in book form" mean? Who owns the copyright to electronic versions of books (e-books)? These are just a few of many questions that federal Judge Sidney Stein of the Southern District of New York is weighing in a dispute between publishers involving the electronic publishing of e-books...[more]

Academic Freedom and the Digital Divide

Safecracking 101? Advanced Jailbreaking? Securities Fraud for the New Millennium? The First Amendment Guide to Fun and Profit? Publishing Government Secrets in a Deconstructionist Era? Are those courses not yet available at your local college or university? Just wait awhile, because if the latest argument on "academic freedom" takes hold, they soon could be[more]

John McCain and the Constitution

He's the darling of the media, the heroic champion of campaign finance "reform" and the independent maverick who finally outmaneuvered the U.S. Senate leadership to get his way. John McCain is also one of the greatest enemies of the U.S. Constitution in any position to affect it…[more]

Free Speech or Suppression?
College Newspapers Get a New Opportunity To Reflect on the First Amendment

The ad was provocative -- intentionally so. Produced by noted conservative author David Horowitz, it argued forcefully against the notion that U.S. descendants of slaves should be entitled to financial reparations. The ad was made available to 51 college newspapers as a paid insertion...[more]

Campaign Finance Reform: The Unconstitutional Saga Continues

The unconstitutional campaign finance reform legislation generally referred to as McCain-Feingold and currently being debated in the U.S. Senate just got more so, the legislative maneuvering became even more cynical than it has been and the media continues to demonstrate that the only free speech they support is theirs…[more]

Privacy For Sale

As the "dot-com" craze continues to slow and more and more companies fall victim to bankruptcy, are consumer privacy rights being sacrificed for a quick buck? Apparently so…[more]

Victory for the First Amendment

The First Amendment scored a victory on March 28 -- albeit an exceptionally controversial one.

Ruling for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Activists, a three-judge panel unanimously reversed a lower court decision that fined abortion opponents $109 million…[more]

Hanging Up On Junk Science Lawsuits:
Trial Lawyer Peter Angelos Takes On Cell Phone Industry.

When the Washington Post trumpets the headline "More Dumb Lawsuits" on its editorial page, you know this one has to be way off base, and it is….[more]

Dance of the Word Warriors

The letter from Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), was blunt: "You and I need to be prepared to oppose George W. Bush’s nominees to the Supreme Court."…Never mind that there are no vacancies on the Supreme Court... [more]

New Twist in The Cell Phone Wars

The latest legal and legislative bell ringer involves the use of hand held cell phones while driving. On December 1, New York will become the first state to ban the use of such devices while driving an automobile. Meanwhile, more than 38 other states are considering some type of restrictions of their own on cell phones and driving... [more]

Those Who Know Don't Say — Those Who Say Don't Know

Behold the politician at work. While Governor Gray Davis is not singularly responsible for California’s energy crisis, he appears to be exerting great effort to exhibit the most disgraceful behavior as a result thereof... [more]

The Return of Napster

For those of you logging on to Napster over the past several weeks you may have heard something startling: Silence... [more]

The Washington Post: They Don’t Get It

According to a July 30 editorial in the Washington Post, you can stop worrying about Congress’ response to the nation’s energy crisis...[more]

CIF Launches Advertising Campaign to Extend Internet Tax Moratorium--September 4, 2001

The Center for Individual Freedom (CIF) today launched a television advertising campaign urging Congress to extend the Internet tax moratorium and oppose efforts by states to force out-of-state merchants to collect sales and use taxes on Internet purchases. To read the full press release, click here. To view the commercial, click here.

School Days, Fool Days

It’s happening again. In Ft. Myers, Florida, a high school senior and National Merit Scholar was arrested, spent time in jail, has been suspended from school and will miss graduation — because a kitchen knife was found on the floor of her car. This is declared to be a violation of "zero tolerance" policy barring possession of "weapons" on school grounds... [more]

You Go, Girls!

Editor’s Note: We’re all at the beach, too. This column was written by the summer intern. We apologize for the demented tone of such immature sexist rantings. We wouldn’t have run it, but he started screaming "The First Amendment Rules" at the top of his lungs. We bought him every version of "Stairway to Heaven" ever recorded and sent him back to school.

Those wacky gals at the National Organization for Women (NOW) are at it again. While all but the Feministas and Margaret Carlson are at the beach in bikinis, the press-release-a-day sisterhood is busy sending letters trying to stop CNN from adding Rush Limbaugh to its on-camera roster...[more]

"Florida: Aliens Found at Space Center"

Headline writers are a unique and important breed. Their ability to distill the essence of a story into two, four, six or eight words, to craft a headline that both sings and sells newspapers is an art too often overlooked... [more]

Campaign Finance Reform
Finis for Now

So-called campaign finance reform is gone for now, except for the shouting, the recriminations, the jockeying for position–the 10-cent public dance of the dwarves that denigrates most who participate... [more]

Gone With the Injunction

We have not read Alice Randall’s novel, The Wind Done Gone. None of us may ever be able to – legally.

Ms. Randall, heretofore a screen writer and songwriter, set out to use the setting and characters from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, but to write from the perspective of a slave whom she portrays as Scarlett O’Hara’s half sister…[more]

Florida: Separation of Powers Duel in the Sun

During the presidential election that will never end, the Florida Supreme Court was rebuffed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court for election rulings contrary to the U.S. Constitution. Among the violations was usurping the power of the Florida legislature, which sets the rules governing elections and, in fact, has the plenary power to name Florida's electors for President, should it so choose... Now, "it's payback time"…[more]

A Microchip For Every Pet?

The California Legislature is considering a bill that would force the owners of dogs and cats in that state to have a microchip inserted into their pets and entered into a national database at the Department of Food and Agriculture. We didn't make this up…[more]

The State of the V-Chip Republic

Remember the V-Chip, the television device that was intended to give parents control over all that nasty television content? The one that Congress forced into virtually every television set sold in this country since January, 2000 — with the cost passed to consumers...[more]

Free Speech at ACLU/Hawaii

According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the board of ACLU/Hawaii has reversed its decision not to invite U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to debate at a First Amendment conference, apparently in response to a barrage of criticism of a group that purports to champion free speech...[more]

A Kennedy Goes to Jail

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., - the son of a former U.S. Attorney General and nephew of a president — is going to jail... [more]

"We Have Met the Nazis of Skokie . . ."

Presumably, the ACLU’s position on free speech and the First Amendment is educated, principled and apolitical, although the recent spectacle of current ACLU leadership declaring elements of so-called campaign finance reform unconstitutional followed by a passel of former leaders who trotted out to say the opposite left us puzzled... [more]

Killer Law

In attempting to obey the new law in Suffolk County, New York, which prohibits cell phone use while driving, William Vasquez pulled off the road to make a call. He was struck and killed by the driver of a Newsday delivery truck... [more]

Freaks, Geeks and Gr’ups: The Eternal Conflict (Episode 3,000,013)

It is difficult to write about "freak dancing" when one has never done it or seen it. Brief clips shown on television are sufficiently and appropriately dark to be of little help. Not to mention that when any phenomenon becomes the Cover Story of USA Today, it’s already too passé to merit much beyond perverse academic interest... [more]

Smile…You’re on a National Park Service Camera

If you’re one of more than 25,000 daily commuters who travel along the George Washington Memorial Parkway in northern Virginia there could be a big surprise waiting for you at home if you break the speed limit...[more]

(Free to) Swim with the Sharks

The New York Times -- which usually reports on those who save whales, build habitat for the great hairy pygmy mollusk and recycle plankton into alternative fuel/food -- has once again demonstrated its journalistic leadership…[more]

History Revisited

Emerging world reports indicate that the Taliban — the fundamentalist Muslim sect that now controls 95 percent of Afghanistan — will require that Afghan Hindus wear identification labels on their clothing.

That which needs to be said about this is plain and simple, but it needs to be said loudly to world leaders. We’ve been here before. This time, we have fair warning and the sickening lessons of history to guide us.—end

Guest Commentary

The War on Terrorism

By Bruce Herschensohn: Since September 11, President George W. Bush has taken extraordinary measures to find terrorists in the United States, and he has signed an Executive Order allowing military commissions to handle the trials of terrorists who are non-U.S. citizens. In addition, there are efforts to locate terrorists by questioning and even detaining suspects. Those executive efforts have sparked debates often characterized as "personal rights vs. public safety after September 11." That distinction is not only inaccurate, it is dangerous, as it causes liberty-loving people who place personal rights well above public safety to think in false terms…[more]

Campaign Finance and the First Amendment

By Erik S. Jaffe: McCain-Feingold represents a frontal assault on a variety of First Amendment principles, some, but not all, discussed in this paper. Because Buckley and its progeny are under attack from both supporters and opponents of campaign finance restrictions, and because the Supreme Court may well move in a new direction when next called to confront these issues, anyone concerned with individual freedom must consider the First Amendment issues from the perspective of first principles…[more]

Pistol Whipped: Baseless Lawsuits, Foolish Laws (pdf download)

By Robert A. Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, reprinted with permission from Mr. Levy: Although Congress and the majority of state legislatures have resisted enacting draconian gun control laws, the courts are the final bulwark in safeguarding our constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Yet the courts of late have been the scene of unprecedented attacks on that right as gun control advocates have used the judiciary to make an end-run around the legislative process.

To download the pdf, click here.

The Tension Between Free Speech and Copyright

By Stan Morris: The ease of putting material on the Internet has generated a great number of legal stresses, including conflicts between intellectual property law and the First Amendment. A recent case brought by Universal Studios against a hacker illustrates these conflicts...[more]

Cowboys Don’t Walk; A Tale of Two
By Anne Goddard Charter. "When we die, America dies…" Introducing a uniquely American chronicle of a proud Montana ranch family that embodies the Western spirit…[more]

"Taking" Away Music Copyrights:
Does Compulsory Licensing of Music on the Internet Violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause?

by Laurie Messerly: The paper, "Taking" Away Music Copyrights," asks the question: Does compulsory licensing of music on the Internet violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause? We believe a substantive argument can be made that it does...[more]

State v. Oakley: Deadbeat Dads and the Right to Procreate

by Tom Goldstein, esq.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent opinion in State v. Oakley, No. 99-3328-CR (Wis. July 20, 2001), presents important and novel questions regarding how far the government may go in imposing a criminal sanction or condition of parole that restricts an individual’s ability to have children...[more]

What’s Wrong With the Flagburning Amendment

by Prof. Eugene Volokh, UCLA School of Law: (a version of this op-ed was published in the L.A. Times, July 18, 2001) "Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States, and the flying of the Confederate flag."...[more]

Menacing Speech, Today and During the Civil Rights Movement

By Prof. Eugene Volokh, UCLA School of Law, originally published in slightly different form in the Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2001: The Nuremberg Files case, decided Wednesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, has been reported as a victory for pro-life advocates. But the broader question the case raises -- when may the law punish menacing political speech? -- means there's much more at stake here than this one particular movement...[more]

National Motto or Violation of the First Amendment?

By Stan Morris: Mississippi has passed a law mandating that the phrase "In God We Trust" be displayed in every classroom in the state. As a national motto, we find this phrase on our money and other places throughout the nation. This slogan has been recognized as constitutional when used by the federal government. The latest rendition of that opinion by the United States Supreme Court was in 1989 in the case of Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, in which Justice Blackmun recognized the motto as being part of our national psyche…[more]

A Crash Course for California's Governor Gray Davis

By Michael Giorgino: Governor Gray Davis sat stone-faced while President Bush told California business leaders, "Price caps do nothing to reduce demand, and they do nothing to increase supply." Davis then renewed his demand for price controls on energy, threatening a lawsuit to force the administration to impose federal caps on the rates charged by out of state generators...[more]

Gone In A Mushroom Cloud

by Lee Pitts, Executive Editor, Livestock Market Digest: Whether you like your beef with or without mushrooms, a recent decision by the Supreme Court is going to leave a decidedly toadstool taste in the collective mouth of the beef industry for a long time...[more]

Just The Facts

Free Speech Put to the Test in Jefferson's Backyard

The Charlottesville, Virginia City Council is currently debating whether to allow a private organization to build a 65 feet long, 8 feet high chalkboard on public land across from City Hall as a monument to First Amendment rights…[more]

Appeals Court Halts Microsoft Breakup; Disqualifies District Judge

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has reversed U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s ruling to split Microsoft into two companies...[more]

School Finger Scans: High-tech convenience, but at what price?

School administrators claim to have found a new high-tech method to more efficiently manage students' time, while teaching them responsibility and how to manage money…[more]

Music Industry Embraces Online Music Service

In an attempt to provide legitimate access to music on the Internet, the five major record companies announced that they have joined with MTVi Group, the Internet division of the cable TV outlet, to launch a new website allowing consumers to download music from the Internet based on a per use or monthly subscription fee…[more]

Appeals Court Hears Arguments in "Shthpns" Case

There are many varieties of vanity license plates in Vermont, but "Shthpns" may not be among them if a federal appeals court rules against its owner…[more]

The Battle Over Napster

What supporters hail as a symbol of "Generation Next" ingenuity and the "freedom of the Internet" has ended in a landmark federal appeals court ruling that will have a dramatic effect on intellectual property rights and the sharing of music on the Internet…[more]

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