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Legal Affairs Archive

Investment in Early Childhood Education Will Cut Crime and Save Money | Commentary

Take a look at the criminal records of the almost 2 million people incarcerated in the U.S. and youll probably assume their troubles began when they committed their crimes. As sheriffs who manage facilities housing tens of thousands of inmates each year, we know for many the journey to jail begins much earlier.

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'Stand Your Ground' Hearing Meant to Spark Debate, Not Federal Legislation

A Senate hearing Tuesday on state stand your ground laws is likely to feature emotional testimony from the mother of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, but is not intended to lay the groundwork for federal legislation addressing such statutes, according to a Democratic aide.

Cybersecurity Bills Stymied by NSA Controversy

Passions are so high over the National Security Agencys record collection programs that congressional turmoil over that issue has done collateral damage to another subject this year: cybersecurity legislation.

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Coming Up: Congressional Showdown on NSA Wiretapping

The fight over the future of the National Security Agencys phone record and Internet data collection programs had its first skirmish in the House in July, with a vote that nearly defunded the phone record initiative. And Congress has been building toward a prolonged and potentially nasty battle this fall and winter.

Reining In the Unauthorized American Surveillance State | Commentary

Although ideological obstructionism in Congress over federal finances has led to the first government shutdown in 17 years, its worth remembering that there is one issue where bipartisanship still holds reining in the surveillance state.

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Software Patent Proposals Divide Tech Industry

Spend any time with tech lobbyists, and one topic is unavoidable: patent trolls. The phrase elicits more scorn in their industry than almost any subject, despite its low profile for those outside the arcane world of intellectual property law.

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Judiciary Chairmen Intent on Curbing Patent Trolls

A number of bills are pending in Congress that aim to combat the rise of patent trolls, but the ones worth watching are the offerings from the two Judiciary chairmen.

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Action on Cybersecurity Likely Delayed Until 2014

Congress almost certainly wont pass any kind of major cybersecurity legislation in 2013, according to industry officials, lobbyists and others who track the issue.

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Navy Yard Shooting Hasn't Broken Logjam on Gun Control in Congress

The mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard which took place a mile from the Capitol has advocates once again talking about gun legislation, but still without the votes to pass it.

Stop Trying to Stop Leaks. Engage the Press Instead | Commentary

Long before Edward Snowden, even before Bradley Manning, Washington has over the past decade and with growing prosecutorial zeal focused on deterring leakers. The government could do many things to cut down on leaks, such as repairing the broken whistle-blower process and fixing a system that rewards overclassification.

D.C. Court Adopts Old Judicial Error to Inflate Executive Power | Commentary

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 23 ruled that a law Congress passed in 2002 impermissibly infringes on the presidents power to recognize foreign governments. The statute required the secretary of State to record Israel as the place of birth on the passport of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem if the parent or guardian so requests.

Workplace Protections: A Rare Opportunity for Compromise | Commentary

Lawmakers returning to town after Labor Day are facing an agenda filled with political land mines, from threats of a government shutdown over spending to the sequester. But there is one bill that is smooth sailing, enormously popular and so common-sense that Americans are routinely shocked to learn it isnt already law.

Democrats Applaud Justice's Pot Guidance

Democrats did a press release victory lap Thursday, after the Justice Department announced it would not challenge marijuana legalization laws in states just as long as those states establish regulatory schemes and focus on certain enforcement priorities.

Obama Hasn't Evolved on Pot -- Yet

President Barack Obama doesnt favor changing marijuana laws at this point but he also believes that federal law enforcement resources should not be focused on individual users, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.

Manning Not Guilty of Aiding the Enemy but Larger Issues Loom | Commentary

Bradley Mannings acquittal on the charge of aiding the enemy signals a welcome bit of rationality in an otherwise misfocused three-year executive branch endeavor that ultimately fails to address the real national security challenges revealed by this case. Conviction on that charge of an individual lacking specific intent to actually aid an enemy would have established dangerous precedent. Under the literal language of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (and historical practice pre-dating the Constitution) it can be applied by a court-martial to any person, not just those otherwise subject to military justice. Even more important, in my opinion, is the fact that Mannings trial distracts us from the real national security issues raised by this incident.

DOMA Ruling Could Expand Financial Disclosure | Davidson

Q. I have a question about your recent article on how House ethics rules could be affected by the Supreme Courts decision on the Defense of Marriage Act. I am in a same-sex marriage with a House staffer that the law recognizes in our state. My question concerns the financial disclosure forms my spouse must file each year with the House. I know that these forms generally ask for information concerning the filer and the filers spouse but that this has never applied to same-sex spouses. I am a private person and dont like the idea of the public knowing about my financial affairs. While my spouse and I of course were elated about the Supreme Court decision, I am concerned that it might mean he must start including my information on his disclosure forms. Does it?

Send the Arms Trade Treaty to the Senate | Commentary

There are more international regulations for the cross-border sale of comfy armchairs than there are for deadly arms. Yes, you read that right. Furniture, fruit and iPods are just a few of the items that cross international borders on a daily basis with more regulation than weapons that can be used to fuel war, tyrannical repression and genocide.

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No Clear Direction on Cellphone Location Tracking

The question of whether law enforcement officials need a warrant to track individuals using their cellphones remains open, but the prospects for legislation on the issue are murky at best in Congress.

States Not Waiting for Congress on GPS Tracking Laws

When Maine enacted legislation last week banning law enforcement officials from tracking individuals using cellphones or other GPS-enabled devices, it became the second state to do so after Montana. A similar effort failed in the Texas Legislature, but there is little doubt that other states will also act if Congress fails to update the statutes that govern access to digital communications.

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Gutierrez Wants Trayvon Martin Hearing

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez wants a congressional hearing on how George Zimmerman could go free after shooting and killing Trayvon Martin.

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