While you may not have heard of it, the piece legislation on the agenda for this up coming Congressional session that may have the largest impact on your day to day life is HR 3261 entitled: Stop Online Policy Act (SOPA). As the name suggest, this bills aim to put a stop online piracy, something that has been a serious problem for many major media companies since the late 1990s and early 2000s when sites such as Napster and Kazaa first popularized online piracy. Currently SOPA is in markup in the House Committee on the Judiciary, and is expected to make it out of committee early on in this up coming Congressional session.
A bill proposed by House Republicans, if passed, would require that all major rules by federal regulatory agencies be approved by both houses of Congress within 70 days and get the signature of the President or the rule will not go into effect. The bill defines major rules as any rule that would cause an impact of more than $100 million on the economy, has significant adverse effects on businesses, or creates a significant increase in cost or price to consumers, the government, or industry. H.R. 10, called the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act), would significantly hinder the ability of regulatory agencies to enact any meaningful rules or policies.
Perhaps the only individuals currently less popular than Wall Street bankers are members of Congress. At a time when the Occupy Wall Street protests have captured the attention of the country, public approval of Congress has plummeted to historic lows; Congress currently faces an 11% approval rating, the lowest ever recorded by Gallup. Partly due to its unpopularity, Congress has finally decided to give serious consideration to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which would ban members of Congress and federal employees from making financial trades based on non-public knowledge gained through their jobs.
Habeas corpus is an important aspect of the American legal system. The right to seek the writ of habeas corpus is implied through the Suspension Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, section 9 clause 2), which limits the suspension of habeas corpus to times of rebellion or invasion. * * * Today, it is possible that, with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 31st, President Obama has also allowed for the suspension of habeas corpus of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism, although he claims that his administration will not use it.
The controversial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton on September 21, 1996. DOMA is codified at 1 USC section 7, and in relevant part states that the federal government will interpret the word “marriage” only as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” 1 USC § 7(3). It also says that no state can be forced to recognize a same-sex marriage from any other state. 1 USC § 7(2). According to the General Accounting Office, there are 1,138 federal laws that distinguish between married and unmarried persons. Although no states were conducting same sex-marriages in 1996, the passage of DOMA ensured that, regardless of future state action, legally married same-sex couples would not be seen as “married” for the purposes of those federal laws.