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Legal Affairs Archive

Congress Should Get Moving on Criminal Justice Reform

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama released his fiscal year 2015 budget request to Congress, which was immediately rejected by House Republicans. Speaker Boehner called it the “most irresponsible budget yet.” Just as predictably, pundits followed by grousing that the budget wasn’t worth the paper it’s printed on: They argue it’s a political statement with no chance of getting passed into law, not a realistic policy document.

Marijuana Legalization: It's Time, Congress | Commentary

Last month, the Justice Department and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued simultaneous memos, clarifying the Obama administration’s position on financial institutions working with state-legal marijuana-related businesses. In short, the guidance issued indicated that, absent evidence that the businesses were violating certain Justice Department priorities and assuming the financial institutions complied with new Bank Secrecy Act reporting requirements, it would not be a department priority to prosecute financial institutions that serve these customers.

Time for the Senate to Act on Patent Reform and Protect Jobs | Commentary

In announcing recent actions by the White House to combat patent trolls and strengthen America’s patent system, Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy, succinctly observed, “It’s no small deal that the president of the United States chose to make a call for patent reform legislation in his State of the Union address.”

Getting on the Right Side of History | Commentary

America is ready for gay and lesbian couples’ freedom to marry. Recently, the Department of Justice issued a memo making clear that the federal government will respect gay married couples for federal programs and purposes, even in states that discriminate against such marriages. Despite the fact that a majority of Americans nationwide favor the freedom to marry, a shrinking cohort of lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to stand against it. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, introduced legislation late last year that would give a green light to codifying and legalizing special discrimination against legally married gay couples.

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Cameras in the Courtroom Push Hits D.C. Cable TV

When the Supreme Court convenes for major cases, the line of paid placeholders and interested parties stretches down First Street Northeast hours in advance.

Security Secrets Create Hurdles for Lawmakers

While lawmakers this week were looking to get to the bottom of the recent data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus and possibly craft legislation to respond to those attacks, they were faced with a stark reality from the investigations: They and the public won’t be getting solid answers anytime soon.

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Retailers Push Back on Proposed Banking Legislation Following Massive Data Security Breaches

Retailers including Target and Neiman Marcus made the rounds on Capitol Hill this week, testifying at three days’ worth of hearings with the dual mission of apologizing for recent large-scale data breaches and discouraging any new regulatory legislation.

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Wells, Civil Rights Groups Push for Potent D.C. Pot Bill

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council will have a chance to pass what civil rights groups are calling the strongest marijuana decriminalization bill in the country.

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Holder Sees Constitutional Basis for Obama's Executive Actions

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. rebutted Republican accusations that President Barack Obama’s use of executive power is unconstitutional during a lengthy Senate oversight hearing Wednesday that touched on policy areas ranging from government surveillance to the dangers of marijuana.

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Lawmakers Take On Carmakers Over Repair Parts

Two weeks ago, automaker Chrysler Group LLC sued parts manufacturer LKQ Corp., seeking damages for what it alleges was infringement on 10 patents for the design of car repair parts.

Working Together to End Gender-Based Violence | Commentary

We’ve seen stories about violence against women all over the world: from a student gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi to the teenage girl in Steubenville, Ohio. In 2013, these horrific incidents rightfully provoked a massive public response. They also put pressure on people and governments to change the way we think about violence against women, its causes and ways we can prevent it. While the problem is vast, we know we can solve it.

Pot Politics on the Rise in Congress, Administration

While Congress appears to be a way off from legalizing marijuana, surging public opinion and recent favorable comments from top Democratic lawmakers could inch the federal government in that direction.

Child Welfare System Must Work Better to Help Stop Trafficking of Children | Commentary

It is a sad truth that America’s most deprived children are also among the most vulnerable to human trafficking. But, I speak from experience when I say how important it is to convert sadness into action if these children are to have any chance at a productive life.

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Congress Considers the Balancing Act Between Security and Privacy

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the agency’s surveillance programs have left Congress stuck between two hugely influential groups: a technology industry that’s long been unhappy about forced cooperation with intelligence operations and an intelligence community that says the work is vital to national security.

Telecoms Will Publish Online Privacy Reports

Thanks to federal restrictions, technology companies and communications providers largely have their hands tied when it comes to providing the public with information about how much customer data they turn over to intelligence agencies.

Redskins Name Change Supporters Set Sights on 2014

The Washington Redskins 3-13 record may be forgettable, but one group is calling the 2013 season historic.

The Department of Justice's Last Stand in the Airline Industry -- Did It Blink? | Commentary

While the American public may not be familiar with the intricacies of antitrust policy, they have direct, and painful, experience with the results of over a decade of lax antitrust enforcement in the airline industry: high fares, little competition and increasing ancillary fees that are the product of a hub system that facilitates tacit, if not overt, collusion amongst the legacy carriers. Against that backdrop, the Department of Justice’s antitrust challenge to American Airlines/US Airways was a breath of fresh air. Finally, we had antitrust enforcement that did not shy away from the tough challenges raised by the increasing consolidation of the airline industry.

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Black Caucus Sees Race as Factor in Filibusters, Eyes Rules Change

The Congressional Black Caucus is fed up with Republican filibusters of President Barack Obama’s nominees, which several black lawmakers said they believe are motivated in part by race.

Goodlatte's Patent Bill Is Two Steps Forward, One Back | Commentary

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., is making a well-intentioned play to reform patent litigation by reining in the frivolous and costly lawsuits that all too often act as a roadblock to innovation.

The Roar of Digital Media | Commentary

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet is scheduled to hold a hearing titled The Rise of Innovative Business Models: Content Delivery Methods in the Digital Age. This is a subject that online distributors of digital content such as music, movies and books know far too well.

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