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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications

Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications

Date: January 4, 2012
Creator: Garvey, Todd
Description: Presidential signing statements are official pronouncements issued by the President contemporaneously to the signing of a bill into law that, in addition to commenting on the law generally, have been used to forward the President's interpretation of the statutory language; to assert constitutional objections to the provisions contained therein; and, concordantly, to announce that the provisions of the law will be administered in a manner that comports with the administration's conception of the President's constitutional prerogatives. This report focuses on the use of signing statements by recent administrations, with particular emphasis on the Administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of Supreme Court Decisions and Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of Supreme Court Decisions and Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Date: January 20, 2011
Creator: Luckey, John R.
Description: This report is divided into two parts. The first gives a brief history of the flag protection issue, from the enactment of the Flag Protection Act in 1968 through current consideration of a constitutional amendment. The second part briefly summarizes the two decisions of the United States Supreme Court, Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman, that struck down the state and federal flag protection statutes as applied in the context punishing expressive conduct.
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The Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution: Interpretation and Enforcement

The Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution: Interpretation and Enforcement

Date: March 15, 2011
Creator: Saturno, James V.
Description: Article I, Section 7, clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution is known as the Origination Clause because it provides that "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." The meaning and application of this clause has evolved through practice and precedent since the Constitution was drafted. The Constitution does not provide specific guidelines as to what constitutes a "bill for raising revenue." This report analyzes congressional and court precedents regarding that constitutes such a bill. Second, this report describes the various ways in which the Origination Clause has been enforced. Finally, this report looks at the application of the Origination Clause to other types of legislation.
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Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C. 924(e)): An Overview

Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C. 924(e)): An Overview

Date: October 13, 2010
Creator: Doyle, Charles
Description: This report briefly explores the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), which requires imposition of a minimum 15-year term of imprisonment for recidivists convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g). Section 924(e) applies only to those defendants who have three prior state or federal convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. The report includes descriptions of constitutional challenges to the application of section 924(e), which have been generally unsuccessful.
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Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Date: October 16, 2009
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: This report provides an overview of the major exceptions to the First Amendment - of the ways that the Supreme Court has interpreted the guarantee of freedom of speech and press to provide no protection or only limited protection for some types of speech. For example, the Court has decided that the First Amendment provides no protection to obscenity, child pornography, or speech that constitutes "advocacy of the use of force or of law violation ... where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."
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Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Date: January 7, 2009
Creator: Luckey, John R.
Description: Many Members of Congress see continued tension between "free speech" decisions of the Supreme Court, which protect flag desecration as expressive conduct under the First Amendment, and the symbolic importance of the United States flag. This report is divided into two parts. The first gives a brief history of the flag protection issue, from the enactment of the Flag Protection Act in 1968 through current consideration of a constitutional amendment. The second part briefly summarizes the two decisions of the United States Supreme Court, Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman, that struck down the state and federal flag protection statutes as applied in the context punishing expressive conduct.
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The Assault Weapons Ban: Review of Federal Laws Controlling Possessions of Certain Firearms

The Assault Weapons Ban: Review of Federal Laws Controlling Possessions of Certain Firearms

Date: December 1, 1995
Creator: Schrader, Dorothy
Description: This report reviews the 1994 assault weapons ban, which is effective for ten years on 19 types of semiautomatic assault weapons. The Act builds upon a 60-year history of federal regulation of firearms. The report also summarizes the pre-1994 federal gun control laws, analyzes the major cases relating to constitutional and statutory challenges to these laws, and reviews judicial and legislative developments since enactment of the ban.
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Federal Tort Reform Legislation: Constitutionality and Summaries of Selected Statutes

Federal Tort Reform Legislation: Constitutionality and Summaries of Selected Statutes

Date: July 7, 2008
Creator: Cohen, Henry & Burrows, Vanessa K.
Description: This report considers the constitutionality of federal tort reform legislation, such as the products liability and medical malpractice reform proposals that have been introduced for the last several Congresses. Tort law at present is almost exclusively state law rather than federal law, although, as noted in the appendix to this report, Congress has enacted a number of tort reform statutes.
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Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-off") Programs

Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-off") Programs

Date: October 20, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: The U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 affirmed the constitutionality of the so-called beef check-off program, one of the 18 generic promotion programs for agricultural products that are now active nationally. Supporters view check-offs as economically beneficial self-help activities that need minimal government involvement or taxpayer funding. Producers, handlers, and/or importers are required to pay an assessment, usually deducted from revenue at time of sale - thus the name check-off. However, some farmers contend they are being "taxed" for advertising and related activities they would not underwrite voluntarily. The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the beef check-off is considered significant for the future of the other programs, although the Court left open the possibility of additional challenges.
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Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends

Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends

Date: August 31, 2008
Creator: Kim, Yule
Description: The Supreme Court has expressed an interest "that Congress be able to legislate against a background of clear interpretive rules, so that it may know the effect of the language it adopts." This report identifies and describes some of the more important rules and conventions of interpretation that the Court applies. Although this report focuses primarily on the Court's methodology in construing statutory text, the Court's approach to reliance on legislative history are also briefly described.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department