Earlier this year, a federal court ordered a halt to President Obama’s unilateral amnesty after a lawsuit by 26 states. The case is now back in court, and the focus has turned to whether the administration misled the court about the status of the administration’s program to grant legal status and benefits to more than 5 million illegal immigrants.

Heritage legal expert Hans von Spakovsky explains the drama in National Review:

As I explained here, on April 7 Judge Hanen refused to lift his stay and issued an additional order accusing the administration of misleading the court about its partial implementation of the president’s amnesty plan…

Had the government revealed that it was issuing benefits (to 100,000 recipients, no less) under the expanded DACA program, Judge Hanen might very well have issued his order earlier to prevent that from happening.

Do you think the administration misled the court?

Heritage expert Michael Sargent explains to the Tyler [Texas] Morning Telegraph why Congress should cut funding for Amtrak:

“Unfortunately, the long wait for the trains (which are normally only half-full) is the norm on long-distance routes, which are only on time four out of 10 trips,” said Michael Sargent with the Heritage Foundation, a public policy group that has studied Amtrak.

“When the long-distance services are late, they are generally over an hour late, and can be more than three hours late a quarter of the time,” he said.

The Heritage Foundation’s Sargent also opposes the funding bill.

“The current bill would preserve the status quo for Amtrak — billions in federal subsidies for incredibly poor performance and staggering costs (including a mounting maintenance backlog),” he said. “Congress should phase out the federal subsidies and allow the private sector to compete with Amtrak services.”

Should your tax dollars go toward funding Amtrak? Tell us what you think in the comments.

It’s common sense that your property–like your house, car, or cash–cannot commit a crime. But under a process known as civil asset forfeiture, your property can be treated as a criminal, giving law enforcement the power to seize it when a crime is suspected.

In a new report, Heritage legal expert John Malcolm explains this outdated practice: 

Civil asset forfeiture is based on a fiction, albeit one of ancient lineage, that property can be guilty of a crime and thereby forfeited to the sovereign regardless of whether any individual is ever charged with (and much less convicted of) a crime related to that property.

These laws, originally intended to take the fruits of crime away from the perpetrator, have gone too far and are now abused by some in law enforcement. Prosecutors need only to demonstrate a “preponderance of evidence” to justify a seizure, while a criminal conviction requires proof of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Mere suspicion is enough.

Those whose property is taken must then prove their property was not involved in a crime. In many cases it’s more expensive to contest a seizure in court than to allow the seizure to stand.

Malcolm gives examples of innocent Americans whose property was taken from them on mere suspicion of a crime. Two dairy farmers in Maryland, for instance, had more than $60,000 taken from their bank account because their deposits looked like those used by criminal money launderers. And in Philadelphia, several homeowners’ houses may be seized because their family members–not the homeowners themselves–conducted drug transactions on their property.

What do you think of this practice? Tell us in the comments. 

Heritage's Ryan Anderson is profiled on the front page of Thursday's Washington Post.

Heritage’s Ryan Anderson is profiled on the front page of Thursday’s Washington Post.

Today’s Washington Post includes an in-depth front-page profile of Heritage’s Ryan Anderson, one of the nation’s leading proponents of traditional marriage:

Another day, another town. Ryan T. Anderson, the conservative movement’s fresh-faced, millennial, Ivy League-educated spokesman against same-sex marriage, has another busy schedule.

There is an interview with conservative talk radio, a debate with a liberal professor at the University of Colorado’s law school and, after that, a lecture to Catholic students eager to hear Anderson’s view that the Constitution does not require that marriage be “redefined” to include same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court will soon be deciding just that question. And Anderson, a 33-year-old scholar at the Heritage Foundation, has emerged as a leading voice for those who resent being labeled hopelessly old-fashioned — or, worse, bigoted — for believing that marriage should be only between a man and a woman.

“Gays and lesbians undoubtedly have been discriminated against,” Anderson says. “But marriage is not part of that discrimination.”

Be sure to read the whole article, which includes praise from the likes of Princeton’s Robert George and even his liberal sparring partners.

So why did the Post profile Anderson? Because his arguments are driving the debate:

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. cited his work twice in his dissent from the court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Anderson is becoming a prominent face of the opposition in news media appearances.

Do you think conservatives need more young advocates like Anderson to sway more people to the conservative cause?

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at The Heritage Foundation

Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) at Heritage Wednesday.

Speaking today at The Heritage Foundation, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) made the case for their new tax plan.

Our current tax code is so overcomplicated and burdensome, they explained, that it ends up punishing entrepreneurs and savers. Over 90 percent of Americans would see a tax decrease under their proposal.

The plan “levels the playing field” for those with small businesses who are currently paying higher taxes than their larger competitors. “The more you innovate, the more you invest into the economy,” Rubio said, “the more you should get back.”

Not only that, their proposal is a “pro-growth and pro-family tax plan,” Lee said, since it institutes a $2,500 child tax credit.

Heritage’s Curtis Dubay and David Burton reviewed the plan last month:

The business side of the Lee–Rubio plan is the best business income tax reform plan that has been proposed in Congress in recent memory. The individual side is a modest step in the right direction, but leaves much room for improvement. The business tax reforms are so positive that, taken as a whole, the plan would dramatically improve the economy and the incomes of American families.

The Lee–Rubio plan would also increase interest in tax reform and show the way on business tax reform. It will help to make tax reform a reality when there is a President in office who wants to lead the effort.

What do you think of the Lee-Rubio tax plan? 

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