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Campaign Finance Law: The Supreme Court Upholds Key Provisions of BCRA in McConnell v. FEC

Description: This report discusses the Supreme Court's decision in McConnell v. FEC. The court upheld against facial constitutional challenges key portions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), (P.L. 107-155, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold or Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform law).
Date: December 19, 2003
Creator: Whitaker, L. P.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Copyright Law: Digital Rights Management Legislation

Description: Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to the technology that copyright owners use to protect digital media. This report surveys several of the DRM bills that were introduced in the 107th Congress and those that are pending in the 108th Congress. Generally, the bills are directed at two separate goals. One goal is to increase access to digitally-protected media for lawful purposes. The other attempts to thwart digital piracy and would do so by enhancing civil and criminal sanctions for digital copyright infringement and educating the public about the rights of copyright holders.
Date: December 18, 2003
Creator: Jeweler, Robin
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Limiting Court Jurisdiction Over Federal Constitutional Issues: “Court-Stripping”

Description: This report discusses various proposals that have been made to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts to hear cases regarding particular areas of constitutional law such as busing, abortion, prayer in school, and most recently, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Proposals of this type are often referred to as “court-stripping” legislation.
Date: December 11, 2003
Creator: Thomas, Kenneth R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

East Central Europe: Status of International Criminal Court (ICC) Exemption Agreements and U.S. Military Assistance

Description: In a broad effort to obtain U.S. exemptions from International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction, the Bush Administration has sought to conclude bilateral agreements worldwide that would prohibit the transfer of U.S. citizens to the ICC. The European Union has strongly promoted the ICC and is opposed to the U.S.- proposed agreements. This report addresses twelve countries of east central Europe affected by the U.S. and European policies – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, and Slovenia – and the status of their varied approaches to the transatlantic disagreement over the ICC.
Date: November 25, 2003
Creator: Kim, Julie
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Higher Education Act: Reauthorization Status and Issues

Description: This report provides an overview of postsecondary education (institutions and students), an overview of the Higher Education Act (HEA) with a focus on its most significant programs and provisions, and a discussion of major issues that have been, or may be, of interest to the Congress during the HEA reauthorization process.
Date: October 29, 2003
Creator: Stedman, James B.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Brownfields and Superfund Issues in the 108th Congress

Description: This report discusses the Superfund program designed for cleaning up the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites was created by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA (P.L. 96-510, as amended). This report discusses recent development and background issues, superfund issues, revenue issues, comprehensive reauthorization, and legislation regarding superfund program.
Date: October 22, 2003
Creator: Reisch, Mark
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Genetically Engineered Soybeans: Acceptance and Intellectual Property Rights Issues in South America

Description: This report discusses issues regarding genetically engineered soybeans in South America. U.S. soybean growers and trade officials charge that Argentina and Brazil–the United States’ two major export competitors in international soybean markets–gain an unfair trade advantage by routinely saving genetically-engineered (GE), Roundup Ready (RR) soybean seeds from the previous harvest (a practice prohibited in the United States) for planting in subsequent years.
Date: October 17, 2003
Creator: Schnepf, Randy
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Drug Control: International Policy and Approaches

Description: Over the past decade, worldwide production of illicit drugs has risen dramatically: opium and marijuana production has roughly doubled and coca production tripled. Street prices of cocaine and heroin have fallen significantly in the past 20 years, reflecting increased availability. Despite apparent national political resolve to deal with the drug problem, inherent contradictions regularly appear between U.S. anti-drug policy and other national policy goals and concerns. The mix of competing domestic and international pressures and priorities has produced an ongoing series of disputes within and between the legislative and executive branches concerning U.S. international drug policy. One contentious issue has been the Congressionally-mandated certification process, an instrument designed to induce specified drug-exporting countries to prioritize or pay more attention to the fight against narcotics businesses.
Date: October 16, 2003
Creator: Perl, Raphael F.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Child Pornography: Constitutional Principles and Federal Statutes

Description: The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, P.L. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009- 26, added a definition of “child pornography” that include visual depictions of what appears to be a minor engaging in explicit sexual conduct, even if no actual minor was used in producing the depiction. On April 16, 2002, in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, the Supreme Court held this provision unconstitutional to the extent that it prohibited pictures that were not produced with actual minors. (This case is discussed under “Section 2256,” below.) In response to Ashcroft, bills were introduced in the House and Senate that would continue to ban some child pornography that was produced without an actual minor; on June 25, 2002, the House passed one such bill: H.R. 4623, 107th Congress.
Date: October 15, 2003
Creator: Cohen, Henry
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Comparing Quota Buyout Payments for Peanuts and Tobacco

Description: The purpose of this analysis is to provide a generally consistent comparison of the benefits provided to peanut quota holders and producers and proposed benefits concerning tobacco. It is not the intention of this analysis to attempt to determine the appropriate size of these buyout payments.
Date: October 14, 2003
Creator: Womach, Jasper
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Controversies for the 108th Congress

Description: This report discusses the ongoing debate about whether or not to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Current law forbids energy leasing in the Refuge. This report addresses several legislative options on the issue, as well as policymakers' arguments for and against development, especially in the wake of increasing terrorism since 2000-2001.
Date: October 10, 2003
Creator: Corn, M. Lynne; Gelb, Bernard A. & Baldwin, Pamela
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Broadband Internet Access: Background and Issues

Description: From a public policy perspective, the goals are to ensure that broadband deployment is timely, that industry competes fairly, and that service is provided to all sectors and geographical locations of American society. The federal government -- through Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) -- is seeking to ensure fair competition among the players so that broadband will be available and affordable in a timely manner to all Americans who want it. While the FCC's position is not to intervene at this time, some assert that legislation is necessary to ensure fair competition and timely broadband deployment. One proposal would ease certain legal restrictions and requirements, imposed by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, on incumbent telephone companies who provide high speed data (broadband) access. Another proposal would compel cable companies to provide "open access" to competing Internet service providers.
Date: October 10, 2003
Creator: Gilroy, Angele A. & Kruger, Lennard G.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Clean Air Act Issues in the 108th Congress

Description: Clean air issues were discussed at length in the 107th Congress, but legislation was not enacted, leaving the same issues for possible consideration in the 108th. The most prominent air quality issues discussed in this report are; the controversy over EPA’s proposed changes to the New Source Review (NSR) requirements, Clear Skies / Multi-Pollutant Legislation, gasoline additive MTBE, Conformity of Transportation Plans and SIPs Deadlines for Achieving the Ozone Air Quality Standard.
Date: October 10, 2003
Creator: McCarthy, James E.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

"Junk E-mail": An Overview of Issues and Legislation Concerning Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail ("Spam")

Description: Unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE), also called “spam” or “junk e-mail,” aggravates many computer users. Not only can spam be a nuisance, but its cost may be passed on to consumers through higher charges from Internet service providers who must upgrade their systems to handle the traffic. Also, some spam involves fraud, or includes adult-oriented material that offends recipients or that parents want to protect their children from seeing. Proponents of UCE insist it is a legitimate marketing technique that is protected by the First Amendment. While 36 states have anti-spam laws, there is no federal law specifically concerning spam. Nine “antispam” bills are pending in the 108th Congress: H.R. 1933 (Lofgren), H.R. 2214 (Burr-Tauzin-Sensenbrenner), H.R. 2515 (Wilson-Green), S. 563 (Dayton), S. 877 (Burns-Wyden), S. 1052 (Nelson-FL), S. 1231 (Schumer), S. 1293 (Hatch), and S. 1327 (Corzine). Two (S. 877 and S. 1293) have been reported from committee. Tables providing brief “side-by-side” comparisons of the bills are included at the end of this report.
Date: October 6, 2003
Creator: Smith, Marcia S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Abortion: Legislative Response

Description: The primary focus of this issue brief is legislative action in the 108th Congress with respect to abortion. However, discussion of those legislative proposals necessarily involves a brief discussion of the leading U.S. Supreme Court decisions concerning a woman’s right to choose whether to terminate her pregnancy. For a more detailed discussion of the relevant case law, see CRS Report 95-724, Abortion Law Development: A Brief Overview.
Date: October 3, 2003
Creator: Lewis, Karen J.; Shimabukuro, Jon O. & Ely, Dana
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department