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 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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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 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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Supreme Court: Strip Searches for All, Even Minor Offenders

The Supreme Court's opinion in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington has created quite a stir this week. The opinion, authored personally by Justice Anthony Kennedy with concurrences from Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, authorizes jails to conduct strip searches of all inmates, even those who are being booked for minor offenses such as traffic violations, regardless of whether or not prison authorities deem them suspicious.

Albert Florence, the plaintiff, filed his suit against the government after being arrested, subjected to a strip search, and put in prison for several days following a routine traffic stop. He was booked on charges of failure to pay a fine, a fine which he had actually paid years earlier. Yesterday I appeared for an interview on WGBH radio's
Emily Rooney Show, in which I discussed the dangerous implications of both faulty police databases and the Court's granting such expansive authority to law enforcement and prison officials.
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Sometimes the Tobacco Companies are Right

Sometimes we can even be thankful for tobacco companies. On November 7th, Judge Richard Leon enjoined the FDA from enforcing new regulations which would force tobacco companies to emblazon their cigarette packages with graphic images depicting the worst ravages of diseases caused by smoking. While we are hardly fans of smoking tobacco or the companies which sell cigarettes, as my research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I write on this week, the tobacco companies were absolutely correct in their objections, and Judge Richard Leon’s decision represents an important reminder that the First Amendment guarantees us not only the right to speak, but also the right NOT to speak (and, in particular, the right not to parrot the government’s preferred point-of-view).

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The Supreme Court: A Prosecutor's Best Friend

On October 27th, the Innocence Project, in conjunction with the Veritas Initiative and Voices of Innocence, announced a “nationwide tour seeking policy reforms to prevent prosecutorial misconduct.” Headlining the tour will be John Thompson, the man who, despite being placed on death row due to corrupt and negligent actions on the part of the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office, was stripped of his 14 million dollar judgment against the DA by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Connick v. Thompson. In our latest post on, my research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I discuss the ruling, and critique the notion that the prosecutor’s office deserves immunity for its horrific neglect of basic constitutional rights. As we have written elsewhere, the explosion of federal statutes has made all people increasingly at risk of facing criminal and civil charges for a host of innocuous behaviors. Surely, so-called public servants should be held to at least as high a standard as their masters, rather than be given protections that would be unheard of for normal citizens.

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