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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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
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
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
Federal Gun Control Laws: The Second Amendment and Other Constitutional Issues

Federal Gun Control Laws: The Second Amendment and Other Constitutional Issues

Date: February 1, 1995
Creator: Schrader, Dorothy
Description: This report examines the historical, legal, and constitutional arguments for and against an individual right to bear firearms under the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Those who favor federal gun control laws tend to assert that the Second Amendment has been correctly interpreted by the courts to confer only a collective right, which may be exercised through state militias. Those who oppose gun control laws tend to assert that the Second Amendment should be interpreted to grant an individual right to bear arms for lawful purposes, subject to appropriately minimal restrictions.
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
The Constitutionality of Requiring Photo Identification for Voting: An Analysis of Crawford v. Marion County Election Board

The Constitutionality of Requiring Photo Identification for Voting: An Analysis of Crawford v. Marion County Election Board

Date: May 19, 2008
Creator: Whitaker, L. Paige
Description: In a splintered decision issued in April 2008, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana statute requiring identification for voting, determining that lower courts had correctly decided that the evidence in the record was insufficient to support a facial attack on the constitutionality of the law. Written by Justice Stevens, the lead opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board finds that the law imposes only "a limited burden on voters' rights," which is justified by state interests.
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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 European Union's Reform Process: The Lisbon Treaty

The European Union's Reform Process: The Lisbon Treaty

Date: July 3, 2008
Creator: Archick, Kristin
Description: In December 2007, leaders of the European Union (EU) signed the Lisbon Treaty, which seeks to reform the EU's governing institutions and decisionmaking processes to enable a larger EU to operate more effectively. This new treaty represents the latest stage in a reform process begun in 2002 and essentially replaces the proposed EU "constitution" that foundered after French and Dutch voters rejected it in referendums in 2005. In June 2008, Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty, and have thrown its future into doubt. This report provides background information on EU reform efforts and possible implications for U.S.-EU relations that may be of interest in the second session of the 110th Congress.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Proposed Constitutional Amendment

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

Date: June 28, 2006
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. Consequently, every Congress that has convened since those decisions were issued has considered proposals that would permit punishment of those who engage in flag desecration. 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 of punishing expressive conduct.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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: June 28, 2006
Creator: Luckey, John R
Description: None
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department