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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
The Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence: A Guide to Obtaining Copies

The Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence: A Guide to Obtaining Copies

Date: August 19, 2004
Creator: Bearden, Maureen
Description: This report identifies ways to locate the texts of the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence in various formats, from sources such as the U.S. Government Printing Office, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Historical Documents Company, the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and the Law Library of Congress. It also lists Internet addresses where applicable.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Fifth Amendment Privilege Against SelfIncrimination May Not Be Extended in Cases Where Only a Foreign Prosecution Is Possible

Fifth Amendment Privilege Against SelfIncrimination May Not Be Extended in Cases Where Only a Foreign Prosecution Is Possible

Date: July 16, 1998
Creator: Wallace, Paul S., Jr.
Description: Several courts in the various circuits have considered whether the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination applies to fear of incrimination in foreign countries, and they have come to divergent conclusions. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in United States v. Balsys, and on June 25, 1998, decided that a witness may not invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in which only a foreign prosecution is possible. This report provides background on United States v. Balsys and examines the court's opinion.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Farm Product "Check-Off" Programs: A Constitutional Analysis

Farm Product "Check-Off" Programs: A Constitutional Analysis

Date: June 21, 2005
Creator: Vina, Stephen R
Description: This report begins with a brief introduction to check-off programs and then describes many of the First Amendment principles that have been discussed in checkoff cases. Next is an analysis of the first two challenges that reached the Supreme Court, as well as a brief discussion of subsequent lower court decisions. This report concludes with a discussion of Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association and its possible implications for check-off programs.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Child Pornography: Constitutional Principles and Federal Statutes

Child Pornography: Constitutional Principles and Federal Statutes

Date: October 10, 2008
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: This report discusses the constitutional status of child pornography and summarizes federal statutes banning and regulating child pornography as well as selected court cases that have ruled on their constitutionality or interpreted them.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Constitutionality of Proposals to Prohibit the Sale or Rental to Minors of Video Games with Violent or Sexual Content or "Strong Language"

Constitutionality of Proposals to Prohibit the Sale or Rental to Minors of Video Games with Violent or Sexual Content or "Strong Language"

Date: January 18, 2006
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: It has been proposed that Congress prohibit the sale or rental to minors of video games that are rated “M” (mature) or “AO” (adults-only) by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. This board is a non-governmental entity established by the Interactive Digital Software Association, and its ratings currently have no legal effect.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Constitutional Conventions: Political and Legal Questions

Constitutional Conventions: Political and Legal Questions

Date: July 8, 1985
Creator: Huckabee, David C & McCoy, Meredith
Description: This report discusses the applications that have been passed by 32 of the necessary 34 State legislatures to convene a convention to propose an amendment prohibiting abortion. Because this process for amending the Constitution has never been used, several unresolved legal and policy questions arise governing the convening and the authority of such a convention.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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."
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Protecting Our Perimeter: “Border Searches” under the Fourth Amendment

Protecting Our Perimeter: “Border Searches” under the Fourth Amendment

Date: May 17, 2005
Creator: Viña, Stephen R
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Delegation of the Federal Power of Eminent Domain to Nonfederal Entities

Delegation of the Federal Power of Eminent Domain to Nonfederal Entities

Date: May 20, 2008
Creator: Meltz, Robert
Description: Congress has on several occasions delegated its power of eminent domain to entities outside the federal government -- public and private corporations, interstate compact agencies, state and local governments, and even individuals. The constitutionality of such delegation, and of the exercise of such power by even private delegates, is today beyond dispute. However, among delegates with both federal and private characteristics, there is some subjectivity to deciding which to list in a report limited to "nonfederal entities." For delegatees of federal eminent domain power listed here, delegations since 1920 have primarily been to Amtrak, hydroelectric facilities (for dams and reservoirs), and entities engaged in the movement of electricity, gas, and petroleum (the last one expired), and for interstate bridges.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
The Brady Handgun Control Act: Constitutional Issues

The Brady Handgun Control Act: Constitutional Issues

Date: October 25, 1995
Creator: Schrader, Dorothy
Description: The Brady Handgun Control Act established a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases, during which local law enforcement can make reasonable efforts to conduct background checks in available records and block and sales to convicted felons and other disqualified persons. This report reviews the background of federal gun control legislation, analyzes the conflict in the courts over the constitutionality under the Tenth Amendment of the duties placed on local law enforcement, and considers the implications of the decisions for Brady Act enforcement.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Date: May 24, 2005
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Date: December 7, 2004
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Date: July 29, 2004
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Legal Standing Under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

Legal Standing Under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

Date: September 15, 2009
Creator: Brougher, Cynthia
Description: This report analyzes the constitutional issues associated with standing, specifically related to cases arising under the Establishment Clause. It provides a background on the doctrine of standing, including the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of various types of standing, including standing to sue as a citizen, as a taxpayer, and on behalf of another party.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Legal Standing Under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

Legal Standing Under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

Date: April 5, 2011
Creator: Brougher, Cynthia
Description: This report analyzes the constitutional issues associated with standing (a restraint on the power of federal courts to render decisions), specifically related to cases arising under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment regarding religion. It provides a background on the doctrine of standing, including the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of various types of standing: standing to sue as a citizen, as a taxpayer, and on behalf of another party. It also examines the current standing rules related to the Establishment Clause.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Legislative Prayer and School Prayer: The Constitutional Difference

Legislative Prayer and School Prayer: The Constitutional Difference

Date: October 26, 1994
Creator: Ackerman, David A.
Description: The Supreme Court's decisions holding government-sponsored prayer in the public schools to violate the First Amendment's establishment clause but prayer in legislative assemblies to be constitutional are sometimes lifted up as contradictory. This report summarizes the relevant decisions and identifies the distinctions the Court has drawn between the two situations.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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
Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications

Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications

Date: September 20, 2006
Creator: Halstead, T.J.
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Date: November 20, 2002
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . .” This language restricts government both more and less than it would if it were applied literally. It restricts government more in that it applies not only to Congress, but to all branches of the federal government, and to all branches of state and local government. It restricts government less in that it provides no protection to some types of speech and only limited protection to others. 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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Date: November 5, 2001
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . .” This language restricts government both more and less than it would if it were applied literally. It restricts government more in that it applies not only to Congress, but to all branches of the federal government, and to all branches of state and local government. It restricts government less in that it provides no protection to some types of speech and only limited protection to others. 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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Date: January 7, 2004
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . .” This language restricts government both more and less than it would if it were applied literally. It restricts government more in that it applies not only to Congress, but to all branches of the federal government, and to all branches of state and local government. It restricts government less in that it provides no protection to some types of speech and only limited protection to others. 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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

Date: May 6, 2003
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Description: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . .” This language restricts government both more and less than it would if it were applied literally. It restricts government more in that it applies not only to Congress, but to all branches of the federal government, and to all branches of state and local government. It restricts government less in that it provides no protection to some types of speech and only limited protection to others. 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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department