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Category Archives: Congress

BYU Law creates language database to help interpret Constitution

The Daily Universe: “The Constitution is America’s central legal document. However, it was written a long time ago, and language has since evolved. Changing language can make the law difficult for lawyers and judges to interpretWhat does it really mean to “bear arms?” How should readers understand the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors?” BYU Law created a database to help answer questions like this. This database is called the Corpus of Founding Era American English, also known as COFEA. “Corpus” refers to a collection of written texts on a particular subject. The corpus holds founding-era documents that can be used by legal professionals for free as a tool to make educated legal decisions. BYU linguistics professor Mark Davies creates various corpora for the linguistics department and was involved in the beginning stages of the corpus.  “We have all these words in the Constitution — words and phrases that, 200-250 years later, we don’t really know what they meant at that time. We can’t go in a time travel machine … to go back 240 years, but what we can do is scoop in hundreds of millions worth of text from that time and say, oh well, when people were using a word or phrase, they were using it in this context,” Davies said.

Executive Privilege and Individuals outside the Executive Branch

EveryCRSReport.com – Executive Privilege and Individuals outside the Executive Branch October 9, 2019 IN11177 – “White House assertions of executive privilege for presidential communications have historically been confined to individuals who were executive branch employees when those communications occurred. While the idea that executive privilege could extend to individuals outside the executive branch predates the… Continue Reading

The Endangered Species Act and Climate Change: Selected Legal Issues

EveryCRSReport – The Endangered Species Act and Climate Change: Selected Legal Issues . September 20, 2019 R45926:”For more than a decade, federal agencies have grappled with how to address climate change effects when implementing the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The ESA aims to protect threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants from extinction.… Continue Reading

U.K.-U.S. CLOUD Act Agreement Is Finally Here, Containing New Safeguards

Lawfare: “On Oct. 7, the United Kingdom and the United States released the text of the long-awaited data-sharing agreement—the first of the executive agreements envisioned by the CLOUD Act, enacted in May 2018 in order to better facilitate cross-border access to data in the investigation of serious crime. At the time of enactment, there was… Continue Reading

Senate Intel Cmte Releases Bipartisan Report on Russia’s Use of Social Media

“Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released a new report titled, “Russia’s Use of Social Media.” It is the second volume released in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. The new report examines Russia’s efforts to use… Continue Reading

Legal Authority to Repurpose Funds for Border Barrier Construction

CRS report via FAS – Legal Authority to Repurpose Funds for Border Barrier Construction. Updated October 2, 2019: “President Trump has prioritized the construction of border barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Over the course of negotiations for FY2019 appropriations, the Administration asked Congress to appropriate $5.7 billion to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for… Continue Reading

Executive Branch Service and the “Revolving Door” in Cabinet Departments

CRS report Via FAS – Executive Branch Service and the “Revolving Door” in Cabinet Departments: Background and Issues for Congress. October 7, 2019. “Individuals may be subject to certain restrictions when leaving the government for private employment or joining the government from the private sector. These restrictions were enacted in response to what is often… Continue Reading

The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You

The New York Times – “Almost a decade ago, Warren Buffett made a claim that would become famous. He said that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, thanks to the many loopholes and deductions that benefit the wealthy. His claim sparked a debate about the fairness of the tax system. In the… Continue Reading

World’s First Deepfake Audit Counts Videos and Tools on the Open Web

IEEE Spectrum – A new report finds that deepfake software is still prohibitively hard to use, but that may not be true for much longer – “If you wanted to make a deepfake video right now, where would you start? Today, an Amsterdam-based startup has published an audit of all the online resources that exist… Continue Reading

Three Chairs Provide Update on Investigative Work, Volker Testimony & Text Messages

Rep. Adam Schiff – Representing California’s 28th Congressional District. Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee via @RepAdamSchiff – “After receiving a trove of important documents from the first of the state department witnesses, my fellow chairs and I highlight some of those deserving of the most attention and what is at stake. Read them here.”… Continue Reading

Trump’s impeachment process will keep U.S fact-checkers busy

Poynter: “For the fourth time in history, a  United States president faces an impeachment. But this marks the first time an investigation like this will take place amid a tsunami of false news on social media. Fact-checkers have built creative strategies to surf this wave. On Sept. 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced… Continue Reading

Proposals for Reform Volume II: National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy

The second National Task Force report on the Rule of Law & Democracy outlines how to curb political interference in government science and fix a broken appointments process. “In recent years, the norms and expectations that once ensured that our government was guided primarily by the public interest rather than by individual or partisan interest… Continue Reading