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Five-minute bites of background about the Court and Constitution — provides unbiased information and context for fully understanding the Supreme Court and ongoing disputes related to democracy and constitutional law. Learn to appreciate the complexity of constitutional questions, and make more informed decisions as voters and active citizens.
 
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When IJ client Abdallah Batayneh tried to open a resort shuttle service in rural Colorado, his application was denied by a state regulatory agency at the same time it assured him that he was “operationally, managerially, and financially fit” to run his company. In today’s episode, we discuss how Abdallah became the victim of an outrageous legal reg…
 
What does it mean when courts apply “strict scrutiny” in their review of a law? Why do property, economic, and other vital liberties get only “rational basis” review? And why do these things matter to a constitutional litigator? Learn all this and more in today’s Deep Dive with the Institute for Justice. This episode originally aired October 29, 20…
 
Although Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are hitting the mainstream, the way the law will treat them is still undeveloped. In this episode, we talk about how and whether the First and Fourth Amendments might apply to cryptocurrency, what kind of protection they offer, and ways to make sure the law develops in a way that protects innovation and o…
 
When the Institute for Justice filed suit against the so-called predictive policing program in Pasco County, Florida, the Sheriff’s Office issued a statement saying that their program is not “in any way, shape or form the ideals or implementations projected in the film ‘Minority Report.'” But in this episode of Deep Dive, we discuss the chilling re…
 
Elizabeth Brokamp is a professional counselor who just wants to help people at a time when many Americans need it more than ever. But if the Virginia resident tries to talk with clients just miles away in D.C., she will cited and fined for making a Zoom call. In today’s show, we talk about what she’s doing to fight back, and why her case is a cruci…
 
IJ Senior Attorneys Robert McNamara and Paul Sherman discuss amicus briefs: what they are, where they came from, and how IJ—and others—use them for maximum impact. For more Deep Dive episodes click here. Download this as an MP3. The post Uses (and Misuses) of Amicus Briefs | (A Deep Dive Best Of) appeared first on Institute for Justice.…
 
Big technology companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook have come under scrutiny for the ways they are—and are not—controlling speech on their platforms. In today’s show, we talk with two IJ senior attorneys about some of the most common concerns people have about these companies, from free speech considerations to the ways they supposedly act …
 
What should have been a routine dental appointment at his local VA took a frightening turn for 70-year-old Jose Oliva when security guards tackled him and threw him to the ground, injuring and humiliating him. When he sought to hold them accountable for their outrageous behavior, he found that the law protected those who abused their power—not him.…
 
In 2015, New Mexico abolished a controversial practice known as civil forfeiture. Critics of the reform claimed it would be a gift to criminals, increasing crime and making it harder for police to do their jobs. In this episode, we talk about what things look like in New Mexico now, five years post-reform. We also dig into the broader findings of n…
 
Over the past several months, a national spotlight has been on the doctrine of qualified immunity. Although much of the recent focus has been on police misconduct, immunity shields all governmental workers: from city council members to code inspectors to IRS agents to cops on the beat. That’s more than 20 million people employed by local, state, an…
 
The Catherine H. Barber Memorial Homeless Shelter is the only option for people experiencing temporary homelessness in all of Wilkes County, North Carolina. It’s been serving the community there for more than 30 years, and its record is exemplary. But when the shelter tried to apply for a permit for a new building in an… The post Property Rights an…
 
With new lockdowns happening all over the country and internationally, we want to revisit the government’s use of police power. Just what does your state have the power to do to protect public health and safety—and when and how can it exercise that power? (Episode originally aired on 04/03/20.) Click here for more Deep Dive… The post When Can the G…
 
Special investigators, trumped up charges, and a night in jail. What happened to Sylvia Gonzalez is truly outrageous—and the local government’s reaction to her efforts to hold them accountable is even worse. In this episode, hear Sylvia’s story and the latest in her fight to ensure what happened to her doesn’t happen to anyone else.… The post City …
 
In 2020, debates about veggie burgers and almond milk may sound like small potatoes. But controversies about how the government can regulate the way that companies talk about these foods and other products actually have important implications for free speech. In this episode of Deep Dive, we talk about what the debate is, and why… The post Can the …
 
Most people think they know what “precedent” means in the law, but the concept is actually more complicated than most realize! Precedent is ancient, but when senators are grilling judicial nominees about precedent, are they actually using the concept in a much more modern way? In today’s episode, we discuss the kinds of cases that… The post Law for…
 
Wildfires are raging across the West, and California is grappling with a record-breaking season. Why, then, does the state tell qualified firefighters that they can’t earn a living fighting fires? The state’s irrational law barring people like IJ’s client Dario Gurrola from working isn’t the only one of its kind on the books. Learn more… The post C…
 
Law enforcement agencies routinely seize currency from travelers at airports using civil forfeiture—a legal process that allows agencies to take and keep property without ever charging owners with a crime, let alone securing a conviction. In this episode, we discuss the real stories of victims of this abusive practice, the new IJ report—”Jetway Rob…
 
When it handed down Espinoza v. MT Dept. of Revenue this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court added one more facet to a year that has already upended the status quo when it comes to education. In this episode, we discuss where the Espinoza case came from, what the ruling means, and what it really does… The post Did the Supreme Court Just Say States Have …
 
With an increasing number of parents desperately seeking educational alternatives for the upcoming school year, teachers’ unions and school districts are doubling down on the status quo. Worse, in many places they are moving to take away options that had been available to parents for years. It has never been more clear that the time… The post It’s …
 
After a tree fell on her house, IJ client Sarah Hohenberg’s journey through Memphis’ Environmental Court left her bankrupt, homeless, stripped of her possessions, and a fugitive from the law. We discuss how this happened—and how IJ’s new lawsuit aims to end this kind of abuse. Click here for additional Deep Dive episodes Download this… The post Cou…
 
This term the U.S. Supreme Court closely considered eight different petitions dealing with the controversial doctrine of qualified immunity. Ultimately, it denied them all. In this episode, we talk about what the Court’s decision means for IJ’s fight for police and government accountability—and where we go from here. Click here for additional Deep …
 
Before he was IJ’s president, Scott Bullock spent 25 years as an IJ attorney. In this episode, he recounts his years in the trenches as a litigator, and the ways his cases and clients helped make him and IJ what they are today. For more Deep Dive episodes click here. Download this episode as an… The post Stories from IJ’s Front Lines appeared first…
 
We talk with the director of IJ’s Center for Judicial Engagement about a few of the issues the legal community is buzzing about at the moment. For more Deep Dive episodes click here. Download this episode as an MP3. The post Zoning, Excessive Fines and Other Hot Issues in the Law appeared first on Institute for Justice.…
 
This discussion is a continuation of our foray into law for non-lawyers. Many people are familiar with the concepts of “due process” and “equal protection,” but where are they found in the Constitution, and what do they look like in practice? For more Deep Dive episodes click here. Download this as an MP3. The post Law for Non-Lawyers – Due Process…
 
A recent podcast (entitled “Libel to Stay”) explained why Free-Speech doctrines prevented Donald Trump from suing journalist Bob Woodward (or any other serious critic) for defamation. So, on the flip side, one of this month’s podcasts addresses how the First Amendment recently saved the President as a defendant in a defamation suit brought by Steph…
 
The National Park Service recently proposed to significantly limit the scope of demonstrations in front of the White House or on the National Mall, the nearby 1000-plus acre swath of green space, memorials, and other historic installations. The proposals were closely scrutinized (and criticized at length) during a round of public comment closing on…
 
One very intriguing case on the Supreme Court’s 2018-2019 docket is unlikely to make big headlines or be featured on the Sunday news shows. In fact, it’s likely you’ll only hear about it from this podcast! Timbs v. Indiana illustrates a phenomenon that even lawyers can forget: that the Constitution’s first 10 amendments (commonly known as the “Bill…
 
I get the ideas for the subjects of these podcasts from a variety of sources. Some podcasts are suggested by decisions made, or soon to be made, by the Supreme Court or lower courts. Others bounce off of controversies about legislative or other policy-changing proposals. Occasionally, a public statement by an official – or a question asked by a stu…
 
Events surrounding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court illustrates how, on matters of Supreme Court nomination and confirmation, the U.S. Constitution is largely missing in action. To begin with, the Framers provided no minimal qualifications for who could serve as a Justice. As school kids learn, t…
 
So…having set the stage in Part One for the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, here’s the skinny on how Roe narrowly escaped: Justice Sandra O’Connor defied expectations by joining two other presumably anti-Roe justices to form a trio affirming its “central rule” that a pregnant woman has a fundament…
 
One of (if not THE) most controversial aspects of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy is what Kavanaugh’s elevation could mean for the modern scheme of abortion rights ushered in by the landmark 1973 case, Roe v. Wade. President Trump’s promise to “put[ ] pro-life justices on the Court” has led many to hope – or fe…
 
In less than a month, the Supreme Court’s 2017-2018 Term will end – in a flurry of high-profile, controversial and contentious decisions. Still undecided cases when this podcast was recorded probe the constitutionality of the Trump Administration Travel ban, the legitimacy of a baker declining on religious grounds to make a specialty cake to celebr…
 
The Court’s mid-May decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association got substantial news coverage because of the outcome. A six-justice majority in Murphy invalidated the 1990’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which had prevented state and local governments from operating sports-betting schemes or authorizing private …
 
If you follow Supreme Court decision-making – and, after all, if you listen to this podcast – you’ve probably noticed the tendency of Supreme Court watchers, whether they are highly respected reporters or less thoughtful armchair pundits, to portray decisions as simple battles between “conservatives” and “liberals.” Yet, attributing Supreme Court d…
 
Lawyers and laypersons alike can fall into the habit of thinking that, once the Supreme Court rules on the meaning and application of the Constitution, that settles the matter. Sure, we remember President Eisenhower having to send national-guard troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce a school desegregation order. And we know that some state […
 
The tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida shined a bright spotlight on the fact that 18-, 19- & 20-year olds can buy assault weapons in many states, even though they can’t purchase alcohol and exercise other privileges. Bills to raise the minimum-age for some weapons purchases are being seriously discussed nationally and in many states. […]…
 
Last month, while many Americans were agonized and outraged over students killed and injured by an automatic-weapon-toting shooter at a Parkland, Florida high school, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did something only a life-tenured jurist who doesn’t have to run for reelection could do – complain about too much gun control! Thomas’ February …
 
It’s not unusual that this Supreme Court Term has several cases about First Amendment protection for freedom of speech. What IS unusual is that not one, not two, but three cases on the docket relate to a specialized, and somewhat obscure corner of Free Speech jurisprudence. I refer to the “Compelled Speech doctrine” – […]…
 
If you followed the news on January 9th — and I KNOW that this podcast’s listeners are very well informed! — you know that Northern-California-based U.S. District Judge William Alsup issued a preliminary injunction ordering the Trump Administration to revive the DACA program (the Obama-era scheme of deferred deportation for the “Dreamers”). The pro…
 
Having devoted both of last month’s podcasts to aspects of “Federalism,” I certainly didn’t plan on returning to the subject so soon. But a podcast committed to how the latest controversies showcase the context behind key constitutional dynamics just can’t pass up the teaching moment afforded by Attorney General Sessions’ recent announcement that t…
 
The first Part of this month’s podcast explained the ongoing challenge posed by the Framers’ decision to make “federalism” a key pillar of the constitutional system they pioneered almost 240 years ago. That podcast noted that, as in many recent-past years, the current Supreme Court Term features a federalism issue prominently on its docket. The […]…
 
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