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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 8, Issue 4: January 23, 2006

  1. Privatizing Marriage Would Give Couples More Choices
  2. Cyberstalking or Free Speech?
  3. U.S. Air Strikes Against Iran Could Backfire, Eland Argues
  4. EMINENT DOMAIN: Abuse of Government Power?

1) Privatizing Marriage Would Give Couples More Choices

The institution of marriage could be greatly improved -- i.e., made to better meet the needs of both partners -- if the government were no longer the monopoly supplier of the terms of a marriage, according to Doshisha University Law School professor Colin P. A. Jones.

"Couples entering into marriage should be able to use a partnership agreement that is tailored to their own circumstances and aspirations, one that reflects the values and expectations that they themselves attach to marriage," writes Jones in an op-ed in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE.

Ending the government's monopoly on marriage, Jones argues, would foster innovation in the design of marriage contracts, resulting in better legal and relationship counseling -- and perhaps better marriages. Marital corporations -- for-profit or non-profit organizations of members that share common values about marriage -- might also evolve to cater to the needs of different kinds of couples. This privatization of marriage, Jones argues, could also help defuse the controversy over same-sex marriage because the opponents and proponents of sex-same marriage would join separate marital corporations and thus would feel less threatened that their version of marriage was threatened.

See "Marriage Proposal: Why Not Privatize?" by Colin P. A. Jones (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 1/22/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1657
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"La propuesta matrimonial: ¿Por qué no privatizarla?"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1657

A longer version of this article will appear in the summer 2006 issue of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW. To subscribe, see
http://www.independent.org/store/tir/subscriptions.asp

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2) Cyberstalking or Free Speech?

Earlier this month President Bush signed into law Section 113 of the Violence Against Women Act, a provision that criminalizes the anonymous use of a telephone or telecommunications device for the purposes of annoying, threatening, or harassing anyone.

But what does it take to annoy someone? As Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy notes, "annoyance" and "intent to annoy" are legally vague terms subject to vastly differing opinions even among legal experts. It's not a stretch to argue that Section 113 could be used to imprison someone for controversial political or artistic expression.

"Section 113 may seek to protect against real threats or violence, but its language is so vague as to endanger much broader political discussion," McElroy writes in her latest op-ed for FoxNews.com.

"It illustrates why the organization Downsize DC is promoting a 'Read the Bills Act,' which would require Congressmen to read measures before voting on them. It is sad that such a commonsense goal sounds utopian."

"Does New Cyberstalking Law Criminalize Free Expression?" by Wendy McElroy (1/18/06) http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1656
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"¿La Nueva Ley de Acoso Cibernético Criminaliza la Libertad de Expresión?"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1656

LIBERTY FOR WOMEN, ed. by Wendy McElroy
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=43

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3) U.S. Air Strikes Against Iran Could Backfire, Eland Argues

U.S. air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, which appear to be increasingly likely, would be against the best interests of the American and Iranian public, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty.

Surprisingly, however, U.S. air strikes may "comport with the interests of the Iranian government," writes Eland in his latest op-ed.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent inflammatory remarks, Eland suggests, may be intended to help provoke an attack by the United States government and its allies: "Perhaps Ahmadinejad realizes that a U.S. invasion is unlikely and that air strikes by the 'Great Satan' would be ineffectual but would help him win over a young population tired of Islamic radicalism and wants to reestablish ties with the world."

Eland counsels reliance on a U.S. policy of nuclear deterrence against any possible Iranian nuclear use of force. In addition, citing Prof. Jack Goldstone of George Mason University, Eland recommends that U.S. policy-makers allow the Iranian public's anti-fundamentalist counterrevolution to gather momentum and not risk an anti-U.S. backlash that might occur if the U.S. were to bomb Iran's nuclear plants.

"Military Action Against Iran?" by Ivan Eland (1/28/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1658
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"¿Acciones militares contra Irán?"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1658

Also see "It's What We Do," by Ivan Eland (AMERICAN PROSPECT, 1/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1648

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=54

To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=19

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

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4) EMINENT DOMAIN: Abuse of Government Power?

C-SPAN to Tape Independent Policy Forum, "EMINENT DOMAIN: Abuse of Government Power?" (Oakland, Calif., Jan. 31, 2006)

http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=114

A camera crew for C-SPAN'S "Book TV" program will be taping the upcoming forum, "EMINENT DOMAIN: Abuse of Government Power?" featuring Steven Greenhut and Timothy Sandefur, at 7 p.m. on Tues., Jan. 31st, at the Independent Institute Conference Center in Oakland, Calif. (To reserve tickets, see http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=114.)

BACKGROUND:

When the U.S. Supreme Court last year -- in Kelo vs. City of New London, Conn. -- broadened the power of local governments to take private property for the purpose of economic development or other "public" benefits, it undercut one of the most important features of the American legal system: the protection of private-property rights. Weeks after the Kelo decision, the City of Oakland, Calif., invoked the power of eminent domain to evict a tire-repair business because the city had targeted the neighborhood for redevelopment. Municipalities elsewhere have also been emboldened by the Kelo decision.

Fortunately, a backlash is now underway in state and federal legislatures and at the grass-roots level. A San Jose group, Limit Eminent Domain, hopes that the ballot measure it is promoting will prevent local governments from using eminent domain to benefit private companies. Most dramatically, voters in Weare, New Hampshire, will decide in March whether the town will seize the property of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who supported the taking of Kelo's property, for the purpose of erecting a hotel and property-rights museum on the Souter property. The development is to be called the Lost Liberty Hotel.

STEVEN GREENHUT documented and warned us about the growing misuse of government power in his 2004 book, ABUSE OF POWER: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain. In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London that local governments may force property owners to sell out and to make way for private economic development, even if the property is not blighted. In response, many states have passed legislation and proposed amendments to their state constitutions to block this unprecedented government assault on the rights of property owners. Timothy Sandefur, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of property owners in the Kelo case. In addition, he consulted in the drafting of Senator Tom McClintock's proposed constitutional amendment to limit eminent domain in California.

Please join us on the night of January 31st for a very timely and stimulating program with Steven Greenhut and Timothy Sandefur to learn about the many ways property owners are fighting back to protect their rights.

SPEAKERS:

-- Steven Greenhut is senior editorial writer and columnist for the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. He is a widely published opinion writer who writes extensively about property. He is the author of ABUSE OF POWER: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain.

-- Timothy Sandefur is a staff attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, where he is currently working to prevent the abuse of eminent domain and to protect the right to earn a living under the Fourteenth Amendment. He holds a J.D. from Chapman University School of Law and a B.A. in political economy from Hillsdale College.

WHEN:

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Reception and book signing: 6:30 p.m.

Program: 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

WHERE:

The Independent Institute Conference Center
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
For a map and directions, see
http://www.independent.org/aboutus/map.asp

TICKETS: $15 per person ($10 for Independent Institute Members). Special Offer: Admission and a copy ABUSE OF POWER: $30 ($25 for members). Reserve tickets by calling (510) 632-1366 or ordering online at
http://www.independent.org/store/events/event_detail.asp?eventID=114

For more information about this event, see
http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=114

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