Money-hungry cops are angry about the forfeiture reform that Attorney General Eric Holder announced last Friday, which suggests it's a move in the right direction. But contrary to initial press reports, the new policy represents a modest change to the rules governing civil forfeiture, which allows the government to take people's assets without accusing them of a crime.
On Sunday, as more than a million people marched through the streets of Paris in support of the right to draw cartoons without being murdered, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication declared that "artistic freedom and freedom of expression stand firm and unflinching at the heart of our common European values."
Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, says a rider in the omnibus spending bill that Congress enacted last month stops the District of Columbia from legalizing marijuana.
Here are some memorable examples from the past year.
After President Barack Obama decided to normalize relations with Cuba, The New York Times reported last week, he "instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to begin the process of removing Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism."
Cheney replied that the end -- to "get the guys who did 9/11" and "avoid another attack against the United States" -- justified the means. "I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective," he said.
Last week, in response to the shooting of Michael Brown and other controversial uses of deadly force by police, President Obama proposed federal funding for body cameras to record interactions between cops and members of the public.
The new federal regulations requiring conspicuous calorie counts for "restaurant-type food" not only force eateries, bars, bakeries, grocery stores and movie theaters across the country to present consumers with information.
If Darren Wilson had been indicted, he almost certainly would have been acquitted, precisely because important details of his deadly encounter with Brown are hard to pin down.
Two years ago, New Jersey's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) approved something called the South Inlet Mixed Use Development Project, which was intended to "complement the new Revel Casino and assist with the demands created by the resort."
Of the three jurisdictions where voters approved marijuana legalization last week, Washington, D.C., is the smallest but the most symbolically potent. The prospect of legal marijuana in the nation's capital dramatically signals the ongoing collapse of the 77-year-old ban on a much-maligned plant.
After a judge rejected Maine's attempt to quarantine Kaci Hickox, the state's attorney general said she was "very pleased," while the state's governor called the decision "unfortunate." The difference between these two reactions is the difference between a rational, scientifically informed response to Ebola and a demagogic response that sacrifices liberty to a popular panic.
In a 1993 decision upholding the involuntary hospitalization of a Newark man with tuberculosis, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Donald Goldman noted that "the claim of 'disease' in a domestic setting has the same kind of power as the claim of 'national security' in matters relating to foreign policy."
Before Tom Frieden became director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009, his two main nemeses were tuberculosis and smoking.
Last week a federal judge in Texas overturned that state's voter ID law, while a federal appeals court declined to reconsider its decision upholding part of a Texas abortion law enacted last year. Whether or not these statutes are ultimately deemed constitutional, they illustrate how politicians use trumped-up threats to conceal ulterior motives, a habit that makes honest debate impossible.
Bob Barr, the former Georgia congressman who wrote the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, later apologized for it, saying it embodied "one-way federalism," protecting "only those states that don't want to accept a same-sex marriage granted by another state."
Attorney General Eric Holder, who last week said he plans to step down as soon as Congress approves his replacement, sees criminal justice reform as the "signature achievement" of his five and a half years in office. He is probably right about that, especially since his record on civil liberties and executive power is almost uniformly awful.
A year ago, before public and congressional opposition changed his mind, President Obama planned to attack the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a brutal dictator whom he said had to go.
A few years ago, when President Obama unilaterally decided to get involved in Libya's civil war, he argued that he did not need approval from Congress because bombing military targets does not constitute "hostilities" under the War Powers Resolution. That argument was so laughable that even the war's supporters in Congress and the press, not to mention Obama's own Office of Legal Counsel, rejected it.
President Obama concedes that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not pose a direct threat to our country, but argues that one day it might. That is the core of the case for the new war in the Middle East that Obama announced this week, although it's easy to forget amid all the other rationales.