Congressional Research Service Reports - 131 Matching Results

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

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.
Date: October 13, 2010
Creator: Doyle, Charles
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: January 7, 2009
Creator: Luckey, John R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

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."
Date: October 16, 2009
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Brady Handgun Control Act: Constitutional Issues

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.
Date: October 25, 1995
Creator: Schrader, Dorothy
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: February 1, 1995
Creator: Schrader, Dorothy
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: December 1, 1995
Creator: Schrader, Dorothy
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal Tort Reform Legislation: Constitutionality and Summaries of Selected Statutes

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.
Date: July 7, 2008
Creator: Cohen, Henry & Burrows, Vanessa K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends

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.
Date: August 31, 2008
Creator: Kim, Yule
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-off") Programs

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.
Date: October 20, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Legislative Prayer and School Prayer: The Constitutional Difference

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.
Date: October 26, 1994
Creator: Ackerman, David A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Delegation of the Federal Power of Eminent Domain to Nonfederal Entities

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.
Date: May 20, 2008
Creator: Meltz, Robert
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: May 19, 2008
Creator: Whitaker, L. Paige
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The European Union's Reform Process: The Lisbon Treaty

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.
Date: July 3, 2008
Creator: Archick, Kristin
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: June 28, 2006
Creator: Luckey, John R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: June 28, 2006
Creator: Luckey, John R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: June 21, 2005
Creator: Vina, Stephen R
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Constitutionality of Requiring Sexually Explicit Material on the Internet to be Under a Separate Domain Name

Description: It is unclear whether making a “.xxx” domain mandatory would violate the First Amendment. Some propose making use of a “.xxx” domain voluntary, but others propose that Congress make it mandatory. The latter proposal raises the question whether a mandatory separate domain would violate the First Amendment, and this report focuses on that question.
Date: January 3, 2006
Creator: Cohen, Henry
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"

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.
Date: January 18, 2006
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department