Congressional Research Service Reports - 131 Matching Results

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A Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment: Background and Congressional Options

Description: One of the most persistent political issues facing Congress in recent decades is whether to require that the budget of the United States be in balance. Although a balanced federal budget has long been held as a political ideal, the accumulation of large deficits in recent years has heightened concern that some action to require a balance between revenues and expenditures may be necessary. This report provides an overview of the issues and options that have been raised during prior consideration of proposals for a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
Date: July 20, 2011
Creator: Saturno, James V. & Lynch, Megan Suzanne
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

A Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment: Background and Congressional Options

Description: One of the most persistent political issues facing Congress in recent decades is whether to require that the budget of the United States be in balance. Although a balanced federal budget has long been held as a political ideal, the accumulation of large deficits in recent years has heightened concern that some action to require a balance between revenues and expenditures may be necessary. This report provides an overview of the issues and options that have been raised during prior consideration of proposals for a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
Date: July 8, 2011
Creator: Saturno, James V. & Lynch, Megan Suzanne
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Legal Standing Under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

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.
Date: April 5, 2011
Creator: Brougher, Cynthia
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: March 15, 2011
Creator: Saturno, James V.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Military Personnel and Freedom of Religion: Selected Legal Issues

Description: This report provides an overview of the requirements of the First Amendment related to military personnel's religious exercise. It analyzes current constitutional and statutory requirements regarding religious exercise, and provides a framework for how Congress and the courts might consider future issues that arise related to service members' religious exercise. Specifically, the report examines the limitations placed on service members in uniform in the exercise of their religious beliefs. It also examines the role of military chaplains and the legal challenges associated with publicly funding religious personnel. The report analyzes efforts by Congress and the Department of Defense to address the constitutional concerns that are raised by these issues.
Date: February 1, 2011
Creator: Mason, R. Chuck & Brougher, Cynthia
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of 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: January 20, 2011
Creator: Luckey, John R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

Federalism, State Sovereignty, and the Constitution: Basis and Limits of Congressional Power

Description: The lines of authority between states and the federal government are, to a significant extent, defined by the United States Constitution and relevant case law. In recent years, however, the Supreme Court has decided a number of cases that would seem to reevaluate this historical relationship. This report discusses state and federal legislative power generally, focusing on a number of these "federalism" cases.
Date: July 12, 2010
Creator: Thomas, Kenneth 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

Legal Standing Under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

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.
Date: September 15, 2009
Creator: Brougher, Cynthia
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

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

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 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

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

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

Federalism, State Sovereignty, and the Constitution: Basis and Limits of Congressional Power

Description: The report discusses state and federal legislative power generally, and focuses on a number of these "federalism" cases. Issues addressed include congressional power under the Commerce Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment; limits on congressional powers, such as the Tenth Amendment; and state sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.
Date: February 1, 2008
Creator: Thomas, Kenneth R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department