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Laws
  • 7 Weird Bills Introduced in the New Congress

    Enthusiasts of renaming post offices, rejoice! Congress has returned  to session, but honoring local heroes is not the only thing they can do. They're also good at filing "message" legislation intended to show their constituents they care about various pet causes.

    Whether you're a conspiracy theorist hounded by the UN's black helicopters or just a survivalist goldbug awaiting an economic cataclysm, take comfort in knowing that some member of Congress hears your concerns:

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    Tags: House of Representatives, Jim Moran, John Conyers, Jose Serrano, Laws, Paul Broun, Rob Woodall, Senate
  • Judge Rules Freedom of Speech Does Not Include Facebook "Likes"

    Facebook profileFreedom of speech is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution. Thanks to the First Amendment, we can rant about politicians and other public officials all day long.

    We just can't "like" them on Facebook

    Daniel Ray Carter and Robert McCoy were deputies in the Hampton, Virginia sheriff’s office. Were, that is, until they made the mistake of "liking" their boss' opponent's Facebook page during a contested sheriff election. They were both fired shortly after their boss won reelection.

    As government employees, Carter and McCoy are protected by the First Amendment. Nevertheless, a federal judge in Virginia denied their claim that they were unconstitutionally fired for expressing their political view on the unusual theory that "liking" a Facebook page does not constitute a form of expression protected by the First Amendment:

    "No such statements exist in this case. Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection."

    Of course, that's not actually true. The Supreme Court has held that protected speech includes acts such as wearing an anti-war armband, waving a flag and displaying a swastika. Apparently, the judge was just exercising his freedom to be a crotchety old man to whom everything on the Internet is too new, evil and scary to be constitutional.

    In addition to losing their case, the two fired deputies were promptly ordered to get off the judge's lawn.

    Photo by John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images


    Tags: Bill of Rights, Constitution, Facebook, Internet, Laws, Police, Supreme Court, Virginia
  • Supreme Court Poll Shows Stupid Americans are Stupid

    With all the recent talk about Obamacare and the role of the Supreme Court, it's useful to stop and remember just how little Americans know about the judicial body that will control their access to affordable health care.

    According to this incredible Pew poll, the majority of Americans cannot even name the chief justice

    Who is the Chief Justice of the United States?

    Don't know: 53%
    John Roberts: 28%
    Thurgood Marshall: 8%
    John Paul Stevens: 6%
    Harry Reid: 4%

    It's pretty sad that 53% of the country can't identify the leader of one of our three branches of government. Even worse, it was a multiple-choice question. Even worse-er, a bunch of people thought the chief justice was Thurgood Marshall, who retired 20 years ago. I guess we should just be happy most respondents could tie their own shoes.

    This poll really puts into perspective just how staggeringly uninformed Americans are when it comes to basic issues of government. Which, come to think of it, might explain the temporary popularity of Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Perry last fall.

    Well, good thing we don't let all these people do anything important. Like, you know, pick the President of the United States. That would be a total disaster — Oh, right…

    Photo by Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group/Getty Images


    Tags: Harry Reid, Health Care, John Paul Stevens, John Roberts, Judiciary, Laws, Polls, Supreme Court
  • Now President Obama Isn't Even Sure If Gays Face Discrimination

    After "evolving" backwards from full support for marriage equality in the '90s to tepid support for stripped-down civil unions in the '00s, President Obama couldn't possibly let his gay supporters down any more, right?

    Wrong

    After months of dodging questions about the progress of an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting, the White House won't issue the directive, but will instead study whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees require employment protections…

    The delay represents a departure for the president who committed to supporting a "formal written policy of non-discrimination that includes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression…for all Federal contractors" as a candidate in 2008 and pledged to fight for the community in 2009 and 2011. "I'm here with a simple message: I'm here with you in that fight."

    Yes, he's right here with you. Inside the closet. From marriage laws to anti-discrimination measures, the President refuses to out himself as a supporter of gay rights.

    Hopefully, Congress will act once they see the results of the White House study. Just kidding! It's Congress — nothing will ever get passed. On the bright side, the study to determine whether gays face discrimination in the workplace is in good hands. Sources say it's being conducted by Dr. Obvious of Duh University.

    Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images News/Getty Images


    Tags: Barack Obama, Civil Rights, Laws, LGBT, Marriage Equality
  • President Obama May Not Be the Best Constitutional Scholar

    barack obamaAs a graduate of Harvard Law School and former professor of constitutional law, President Obama has acquired a deep knowledge of legal history. Using that rich historical knowledge, Obama declared on Monday that the Supreme Court striking down a federal law like Obamacare would be "unprecedented."

    You know, "unprecedented," like when something has happened at least a dozen times before

    The Supreme Court routinely reviews laws passed by Congress and either upholds or overturns them. For Obama to suggest that such an action would be unique in American history is something of a head-scratcher. We could name numerous examples of the Supreme Court tossing laws passed by a "democratically elected Congress," starting with Marbury vs. Madison, in 1803.

    OK, but he didn't mean unprecedented unprecedented. Just unprecedented when it comes to important laws, like the ones he writes

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    Tags: Barack Obama, Judiciary, Laws, PolitiFact, Supreme Court