The Arizona Immigration Law is Beside the Point

This summer, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in the case Arizona v. United States, and decide the constitutionality of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070. On Forbes.com this week, my research assistant Daniel R. Schwartz and I argue that no matter the outcome of Arizona v. United States, a series of oppressive violations of immigrants' rights—and some truly shocking civil liberties violations—currently enshrined into law are unlikely to disappear.

You can find the article here

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What the Wall Street Journal Missed about False Statements Made to the FBI

John Emshwiller and Gary Fields of The Wall Street Journal have been producing a series of front-page stories about overcriminalization in the United States, with a focus on vague and overbroad statutes, especially federal statutes. Their stories have highlighted an unfortunate basic fact about living in this country: the Department of Justice has an unconscionable number of laws at its disposal, and they know how to use and abuse them to target the innocent – many of the same themes I’ve covered in my “Injustice Department” series on forbes.com.

But in one of their recent articles about the DOJ’s practice of bringing “false statements” prosecutions, they failed to discuss the most important—and most pernicious—aspect of the feds’ use and abuse of the false statement statute. These false statements prosecutions must be understood in conjunction with the FBI’s deliberate policy not to record their interrogations and interviews of targets and of witnesses, and to instead rely on agents’ “Form 302” reports to supposedly document interviews. The result is a truly corrupting and terrifying combination, and helps to explain the problem Emshwiller and Fields highlight.

You can find a link to our article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/harveysilverglate/2012/04/18/what-the-wall-street-journal-missed-about-false-statements-made-to-the-fbi/

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Careful What You Click: The CFAA, The Ninth Circuit, And Your Right to Read This Blog

My new research assistant Zachary Bloom and I recently co-authored a piece in Forbes.com in which we discuss the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in favor of a narrow interpretation of a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The CFAA is a vague, dangerous statute that is open to a wide number of readings. The Department of Justice's broad understanding of the law would criminalize much of the everday online activity of nearly every American. Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit did not see the merits of such a reading, and has limited its interpretation of the law to criminalize only the act of hacking into a computer system. This ruling is a positive step forward. But as we point out, the circuit courts are now in disagreement over the meaning of the CFAA, and the final outcome of the controversy will affect all of our lives.
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Manhattan Institute Q&A Podcast Available

On March 28, I attended a forum at the Manhattan Institute with KC Johnson where we discussed the dismal state of free speech and due process rights on America's campuses. The Institute has just posted the audio of the Q&A session that followed our talks. You can find a link to the podcasts after the jump.
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The Arizona Legislature Tries to Bully the Constitution

My research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I just wrote a piece for Forbes.com about the absurd new Arizona anti-bullying law passed by the state legislature and awaiting Governor Jan Brewer's signature. The bill is just the latest in a series of federal and state laws that seek to ban protected speech by renaming it as something else, then outlawing it. The Arizona bill is a particularly clumsy example of this phenomenon, with the legislature crudely attempting to expand its anti-harassment law to prohibit any form of electronic communication that might be considered "annoying" or "offensive" to the recipient.

As we point out in our article, this bill would essentially criminalize the conduct of anyone who wishes to participate in any public forum. Pundits, too, should beware: from Rush Limbaugh to Bill Maher,those from both sides of the political spectrum who seek to provoke and offend via electronic communications would be liable to face criminal charges under this bill.
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