About The Rutherford Institute


“The Rutherford Institute is one of the nation’s premier civil liberties organizations.”—Nat Hentoff, nationally syndicated columnist

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization based in Charlottesville, Va., is deeply committed to protecting the constitutional freedoms of every American and the integral human rights of all people through its extensive legal and educational programs. The Institute provides its legal services at no charge to those whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated.

Founded in 1982 by constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute is one of the nation’s leading advocates of civil liberties and human rights, litigating in the courts and educating the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting individual freedom in the United States and around the world.

The Institute’s mission is twofold: to provide legal services in the defense of civil liberties and to educate the public on important issues affecting their constitutional freedoms.

Whether our attorneys are protecting the rights of parents whose children are strip-searched at school, standing up for a teacher fired for speaking about religion or defending the rights of individuals against illegal search and seizure, The Rutherford Institute offers assistance—and hope—to thousands.

The Rutherford Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization, gifts to which are deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes.

January 22, 2018
Things Are Getting Worse, Not Better: Round Ups, Checkpoints and National ID Cards
We are not supposed to be living in a “show me your papers” society. Despite this, the U.S. government has recently introduced measures allowing police and other law enforcement officials to stop individuals (citizens and noncitizens alike), demand they identify themselves, and subject them to patdowns, warrantless searches, and interrogations. These actions fly in the face of longstanding constitutional safeguards forbidding such police state tactics.

January 22, 2018
Things Are Getting Worse, Not Better: Round Ups, Checkpoints and National ID Cards [SHORT]
We are not supposed to be living in a “show me your papers” society. Despite this, the U.S. government has recently introduced measures allowing police and other law enforcement officials to stop individuals (citizens and noncitizens alike), demand they identify themselves, and subject them to patdowns, warrantless searches, and interrogations. These actions fly in the face of longstanding constitutional safeguards forbidding such police state tactics. (EDITED VERSION)

January 16, 2018
Silence Is Betrayal: Get Up, Stand Up, Speak Up for Your Rights
They—the powers-that-be, the Deep State, the controllers, the financiers, the war hawks—want us in a state of civil unrest. They want the riots and the mob violence and the political discord and the state of panic. They want us to fight each other and be incapable of taking a united stand against tyranny. They want us silent and subservient. We have been silent too long. We have been silent for all the wrong reasons.

January 16, 2018
Silence Is Betrayal: Get Up, Stand Up, Speak Up for Your Rights [SHORT]
They—the powers-that-be, the Deep State, the controllers, the financiers, the war hawks—want us in a state of civil unrest. They want the riots and the mob violence and the political discord and the state of panic. They want us to fight each other and be incapable of taking a united stand against tyranny. They want us silent and subservient. We have been silent too long. We have been silent for all the wrong reasons. (EDITED VERSION)

January 08, 2018
Justice Denied: The Government Is Not Going to Save Us
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled: it will not hear the case of Young v. Borders. Despite the fact that a 26-year-old man was gunned down by police who banged on the wrong door at 1:30 am, failed to identify themselves as police, and then repeatedly shot and killed the innocent homeowner who answered the door while holding a gun in self-defense, the justices of the high court refused to intervene to address police misconduct.

January 08, 2018
Justice Denied: The Government Is Not Going to Save Us [SHORT]
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled: it will not hear the case of Young v. Borders. Despite the fact that a 26-year-old man was gunned down by police who banged on the wrong door at 1:30 am, failed to identify themselves as police, and then repeatedly shot and killed the innocent homeowner who answered the door while holding a gun in self-defense, the justices of the high court refused to intervene to address police misconduct. (EDITED VERSION)


January 03, 2018
A Tale of Two Americas: Where the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Go to Jail
This is the tale of two Americas, where the rich get richer and the poor go to jail.

January 03, 2018
A Tale of Two Americas: Where the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Go to Jail [SHORT]
This is the tale of two Americas, where the rich get richer and the poor go to jail. (EDITED VERSION)

December 27, 2017
Apocalypse Now: 2017 Was Another Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year
Just our luck that 2017 gave us more of the same bad news that we experienced the year before and the year before that: Endless wars. Toxic politics. Violence. Hunger. Police shootings. Mass shootings. Economic rollercoaster. Political circuses. Senseless tragedies. Loss. Heartache. Intolerance. Prejudice. Hatred. Apathy. Meanness. Cruelty. Poverty. Inhumanity. Greed. Here’s just a small sampling of what we suffered through in 2017.

December 27, 2017
Apocalypse Now: 2017 Was Another Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year [SHORT]
Just our luck that 2017 gave us more of the same bad news that we’ve experienced in recent years. Here’s just a small sampling of what we suffered through in 2017. (EDITED VERSION)

December 20, 2017
How to Recapture the True Spirit of Christmas in a Toxic Age
How is it that despite all of the blessings and advantages we in the United States possess, as a nation we continue to major in minors, prioritizing politics and profit margins over decency and human-kindness?


December 18, 2017
Jesus Was Born in a Police State
Unfortunately, Jesus was born into a police state not unlike the growing menace of the American police state. When he grew up, he had powerful, profound things to say—things that would change how we view people, alter government policies and change the world. “Blessed are the merciful,” “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and “Love your enemies” are just a few examples of his most profound and revolutionary teachings.

December 11, 2017
The Deep State’s Christmas Present to America: Surveillance That Never Ends
Just in time for Christmas, the Deep State wants to give America the gift that keeps on giving: never-ending mass surveillance.

December 07, 2017
John Lennon Was Right: The Government Is Run by Maniacs for Maniacal Means
It’s been 37 years since Lennon was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet on December 8, 1980, but his legacy and the lessons he imparted in his music and his activism have not diminished over the years. All of the many complaints we have about government today—surveillance, corruption, harassment, political persecution, spying, overcriminalization, etc.—were used against Lennon. But that didn’t deter him. In fact, it formed the basis of his call for social justice, peace and a populist revolution.

December 04, 2017
What Went Wrong in Charlottesville: At All Levels, Government Is Still the Problem
n attempting to pacify one particularly vocal and righteously offended group while railroading over the concerns of those with alternate viewpoints, Charlottesville attracted the unwanted attention of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and the alt-Right, all of whom descended on the little college town with the intention of exercising their First Amendment right to be disagreeable, to assemble, and to protest. When put to the test, Charlottesville did not handle things well at all. No one—not the armed, violent, militant protesters nor the police—gave peace a chance on August 12 when what should have been an exercise in free speech quickly became a brawl that left one dead and dozens more injured.

November 27, 2017
Nervous About Traffic Stops? I Am. You Should Be, Too
Drivers beware. Traffic stops aren’t just dangerous. They can be downright deadly.

November 20, 2017
Don’t Just Give Thanks. Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
How do you give thanks for freedoms that are constantly being eroded? How do you express gratitude for one’s safety when the perils posed by the American police state grow more treacherous by the day? How do you come together as a nation in thanksgiving when the powers-that-be continue to polarize and divide us into warring factions?

November 14, 2017
Financial Tyranny: ‘We the People’ Are the New Permanent Underclass in America
We’re living a financial nightmare. We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

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About John Whitehead


John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead’s concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization whose international headquarters are located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson, in addition to writing a weekly commentary that is posted on The Rutherford Institute’s website (www.rutherford.org), as well being distributed to several hundred newspapers, and hosting a national public service radio campaign. Whitehead’s aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties issues has earned him numerous accolades, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom.

Whitehead has been the subject of numerous newspaper, magazine and television profiles, ranging from Gentleman’s Quarterly to CBS’ 60 Minutes. Articles by Whitehead have been printed in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and USA Today, among others.

Whitehead gained international renown as a result of his role as co-counsel in Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton. Whitehead continues to speak out in defense of a woman’s right to be free from sexual harassment and frequently comments on a variety of legal issues in the national media. He has been interviewed by the following national and international media (partial list): Crossfire, O’Reilly Factor, CNN Headline News, Larry King Live, Nightline, Dateline, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, This Week with Sam and Cokie, Rivera Live, Burden of Proof, Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, FOX News Sunday, Hardball, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, National Public Radio, BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio, British Sky “Tonight” and “Sunday,” TF1 (French TV) and Greek national television.

The author of numerous books on a variety of legal and social issues, as well as pamphlets and brochures providing legal information to the general public, Whitehead has also written numerous magazine and journal articles. Whitehead’s most recent books include Battlefield America: The War on the American People and A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. In addition, he wrote and directed the documentary video series Grasping for the Wind, as well as its companion book, which focus on key cultural events of the 20th Century. The series received two Silver World Medals at the New York Film and Video Festival and is now available on DVD.

Whitehead has filed numerous amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has also been co-counsel in several landmark Supreme Court cases as well. His law reviews have been published in Emory Law Journal, Pepperdine Law Review, Harvard Journal on Legislation, Washington and Lee Law Review, Cumberland Law Review, Tulsa Law Journal and the Temple University Civil Rights Law Review.

Born in 1946 in Tennessee, John W. Whitehead earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas in 1969 and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1974. He served as an officer in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971.

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