Supreme Court

How Dark Money Works

Since the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 in the Citizens United case that political contributions are speech and should be protected, the floodgates of anonymous political contributions have opened. But does absolute funding corrupt absolutely?

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Articles on the depressiveness of Disney, history of Jell-O salads, true crime and more.

How Police Dogs Work

Police dogs have been used since the 19th century - one WWI German defector became a major movie star. But in the US the post-9/11 era has seen a K9 unit boom and questions and concerns have increased as well.

How Profiling Works

At its base, criminal profiling is a legitimate investigatory tool. The Supreme Court has drawn a clear line that bans profiling when it includes race. So why do we still do it?

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Neat articles on the plastic pink flamingo, true crime, Nudge politics and more.

How Patents Work

What was originally designed to encourage innovation by rewarding the people who create technological advances, the U.S. patent system has become a big mess. Wade into this surprisingly interesting mire to learn how to save this important institution.

Why NPR Exhibits Bias

The Cato Institute has a blog post from Michael F. Cannon entitled, "Why Some People Think NPR Exhibits Bias." I can't tell if he's being facetious or just generous by including "Some People Think" in his title. He cites a reporter using the Bush-era tactic used to name the USA Patriot Act (e.g., the, "What you don't like America?" method of shaping public opinion). The reporter called a campaign finance reform lobbyist a "good-government lobbyist" twice, points out Cannon, meaning she's working against the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

So you may have heard about the Supreme Court's recent decision to reverse longstanding limitations that banned corporations from directly contributing financially in elections. It's kind of a big deal. As reported in the Washington Post, for a few decades now, corporations have been limited to contributing to political action committees, which have set limits of $5,000 per calendar year, and kept corporations away from contributing to a candidate directly. Of course, there are always loopholes: Corporations have a way of strongly suggesting to its rising stars that contributing to a certain campaign would probably be good for the old career. Maybe even those employees' bonuses later in the year will reflect an additional amount of the same sum they contributed. So you've got a few execs writing $5,000 checks to a Political Action Committee. It's disingenuous, but tolerable. The limits for individual campaigns are even narrower: $2,400 per candidate, per election.

Chuck and I just pulled off the first half of our second week of the live streaming SYSK webcast. If you missed it (for whatever reason, you don't need an excuse with us), you can check out round two at 1 p.m. EDT today. This is not a shameless plug, though, I promise. I mention the webcast because of a story we covered in the news segment. The Supreme Court heard a case last week on "fleeting expletives," profanity uttered on live TV between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when little ears are tuned in. For decades, the FCC maintained a one-freebie policy, allowing networks to get away with a single errant curse word during a broadcast before levying hefty fines. In 2004, however, the commission changed the rule, fining networks on a single occurrence. Fox led a suit against the FCC and a lower court ruled that the regulatory agency should explain the change of heart.

This just in from CNN.com - the case of the eighth grade girl who was strip searched in her middle school is now heading to the Supreme Court. Some details if you aren't familiar: In 2003, Savana Redding was an eight grade honor student in a middle school in Arizona and was pulled into the principal's office after a fellow student accused her of providing prescription-strength ibuprofen pills. She denied it, so they searched her backpack and found nothing. Even though she had never been in any kind of trouble before, she was then taken to a private room and by three female school employees and made to strip to her underwear. They also had her pull her bra out for further inspection. No drugs.