Jacob Sullum

Posted July 29, 2015

Dylann Roof, the man charged with murdering nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., last month, faces execution or life imprisonment if he is convicted in state court. A federal indictment announced last week threatens him with the same penalties, although you can't kill a man more than once or lock him up for more than a lifetime.

Posted July 22, 2015

Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court shut down a secret criminal investigation that featured early-morning raids on the homes of innocent people and indiscriminate seizures of email, documents and personal property.

Posted July 14, 2015

As the National Security Agency's illegal mass collection of our telephone records illustrates, it is not just foreign governments we need to worry about. Nor are programs aimed at catching terrorists the only threat.

Posted July 08, 2015

Chris Christie says Rand Paul, one of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, is "politicizing America's national security" by objecting to the government's indiscriminate collection of our telephone records. The New Jersey governor's puzzling charge against the Kentucky senator illustrates the bullying tactics of the national security state's defenders, who reflexively argue that civil libertarians endanger American lives by questioning mass surveillance.

Posted July 01, 2015

Three years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts rewrote the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, to save a key provision that he believed would otherwise be unconstitutional. Last week he did it again, this time to make the law work better.

Posted June 24, 2015

"If Congress had passed some common-sense gun safety reforms after Newtown," President Obama saidon Friday, "we don't know if it would have prevented what happened in Charleston." Actually, we do know: Had the bill to which Obama was referring been enacted, it would not have stopped Dylann Roof from murdering nine people at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church last week.

Posted June 17, 2015

Arkansas has pretty permissive gun laws. It does not require handgun owners to obtain licenses, does not ban so-called assault weapons, issues concealed-carry permits to anyone who meets a short list of objective criteria, accepts carry permits issued by other states and, since 2013, arguably allows people to openly carry handguns without a permit.

Posted June 10, 2015

This week, the Supreme Court passed up an opportunity to get the government out of the bedroom. Counterintuitively, the case involved an ordinance adopted by the famously tolerant and progressive city of San Francisco eight years ago.

Posted June 03, 2015

"Section 215 helps us find a needle in the haystack," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last month, referring to the PATRIOT Act provision that the National Security Agency says allows it to scoop up everyone's telephone records.

Posted May 27, 2015

One charge was conspicuously absent from the indictments that a Baltimore grand jury issued last Thursday in connection with the death of Freddie Gray from injuries he suffered in police custody.

Posted May 20, 2015

According to researchers at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, the war in Iraq that George W. Bush started in 2003 has killed about 200,000 people, mostly civilians, and cost American taxpayers more than $2 trillion.

Posted May 13, 2015

Last week a federal appeals court said police do not need a warrant to look at cellphone records that reveal everywhere you've been. Two days later, another appeals court said the National Security Agency (NSA) is breaking the law by indiscriminately collecting telephone records that show whom you call, when you call them and how long you talk.

Posted May 06, 2015

When the cops chasing Freddie Gray caught up with him, they had a problem: He had not done anything illegal.

Posted April 29, 2015

When Congress passed the PATRIOT Act in 2001, it did not intend to authorize the indiscriminate collection of personal information about every American. But that is what Congress will be doing if it renews the law next month without changes aimed at protecting our privacy from an increasingly intrusive national security state.

Posted April 22, 2015

Back in 1986, Congress passed the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act, a law aimed at "designer drugs" that were similar to illegal compounds but different enough to escape prohibition. Nearly three decades later, the government is still scrambling to keep up with the output of creative underground chemists, banning one psychoactive substance after another, only to find substitutes already on the market.

Posted April 15, 2015

Although the First Amendment right to record the police as they perform their duties in public is well established, cops often violate that right by ordering people to turn off their cameras, confiscating their cellphones or arresting them on trumped-up charges.

Posted April 08, 2015

Rand Paul, who launched his presidential campaign on Tuesday, calls himself "a different kind of Republican," which at this point remains an accurate description.

Posted April 01, 2015

When President Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, the law had broad support in both major political parties and was widely perceived as an expression of a pluralistic society's tolerance. When Gov. Mike Pence signed Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week, the law became a bitterly partisan issue, denounced by Democrats across the country as an instrument of bigotry.

Posted March 25, 2015

If you have not done your taxes yet, do not count on getting help from the Internal Revenue Service in answering any last-minute questions that may arise.

Posted March 18, 2015

It's too bad that Graham and other Republicans are not kidding when they say our national security is threatened by inadequate military spending, because that is also a joke. A little perspective shows why.



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