Questions tagged [united-states]

For questions specific to the United States as a whole, or that span multiple state jurisdictions. If your question is related to a specific state then you should use that state's tag instead (or as well).

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146 votes
6 answers
23k views

Can a public school in the USA force a 14yr old to create a Twitter account for a passing grade?

My youngest is a freshman & signed up for a program the school refers to as "co-lab". At my insistence. 2yrs ago, I attended a board meeting where the formation of the program was introduced. At ...
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95 votes
3 answers
22k views

If I don't want to patent something, what can I do to ensure the patent office doesn't unintentionally grant the patent to someone else?

Say that I have created a hypothetical new invention. I would like for it to be used by as many people as possible without restrictions, so I deliberately choose not to pursue a patent on it. As ...
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86 votes
2 answers
14k views

On what basis might Trump's executive order on immigration be illegal?

On 27 January 2017, US President Donald Trump has issued an executive order entitled 'Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States'. On 30 January 2017, the acting ...
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79 votes
4 answers
24k views

How can you tell if you have to follow a police officer's instructions?

If a police officer gives me an order, how can I tell whether or not I'm legally obligated to follow that order? If I ask the officer, is he/she required by law to answer truthfully? If the police ...
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66 votes
2 answers
44k views

Why are lawyers typically excluded from juries?

At least in the United States practicing lawyers are called to serve on juries. But my understanding is at least one side will always remove them before trial. Why would it always be the case that ...
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63 votes
6 answers
73k views

What power do I have as a driver if my interstate route is blocked by a protest?

I recently read about protests blocking an interstate. I feel like ethically no one no (non-police) citizen has the right to obstruct my travel (on a public interstate for the sake of protest), ...
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  • 1,312
63 votes
2 answers
101k views

Can you refuse to swear on the Bible?

Everyone has heard the procedure to get sworn in in an American court: Put your hand on a Holy Bible and answer yes to "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so ...
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62 votes
5 answers
48k views

Is it illegal to run away from a police officer in a way that provokes them, in the US?

So I know this is very silly and obviously hypothetical, but I've wondered about it for a while. Let's say you aren't doing anything (else) illegal, you don't have anything illegal on you, and you ...
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61 votes
3 answers
11k views

How do I anonymously report the Establishment Clause being broken?

My daughter's public school principal has put up Christian symbols and quotes and also invited a public speaker to present during an assembly who told students that God and prayer was the answer to ...
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60 votes
3 answers
58k views

Is it truly illegal for the US Armed Forces to hire someone whose IQ is less than 83?

In this video, Jordan Peterson says that [...] anybody into the Armed Forces if they have an IQ of less than 83 Is this true? What law is this supposed restriction based on?
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60 votes
1 answer
20k views

Is Elon Musk's child name valid in California?

Elon Musk and his partner want to name their child X Æ A-12. Is that name allowed in California, US?
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58 votes
9 answers
11k views

Can I get a DUI in my wheelchair?

I use an electric wheelchair. Upon leaving a bar, I notice I am pretty inebriated. Obviously I shouldn't drive an automobile, and I don't. But what about my wheelchair? I know some jurisdictions ...
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57 votes
3 answers
17k views

Can I legally make a website about boycotting a certain company?

Located in the US. Can I make a website which is specifically aimed at boycotting a certain company? There is no lawsuit between myself and the company. There would be no defamation on the website ...
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56 votes
6 answers
20k views

Can a university legally enforce a policy preventing students from creating their own wireless networks?

I attend a university in the United States where the school policy states that "Students are not permitted to setup or use their own wireless networks." This includes personal hotspots that ...
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56 votes
3 answers
18k views

Landlord wants to switch my lease to a "Land contract" to "get back at the city"

I've been living at this place for about two months and my lease looks pretty typical. Nothing unusual. I've had no problems so far. Today my landlord called me and explained something about the city ...
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54 votes
3 answers
7k views

How does the mandate to report income from illegal activities in the US jibe with the Fifth Amendment?

Al Capone was famously taken down for tax evasion for not reporting income from his illegal activities. If someone were to report the income from illegal activities like a marijuana dispensary or a ...
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54 votes
3 answers
37k views

Would open source programs that use encryption be illegal under this draft of the "Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016"

The U.S. congress has a draft for a bill that would require companies to fetch information from a device when requested by a court. A consequence of this is that many types of security technology ...
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53 votes
3 answers
9k views

Landlord penalty for law enforcement calls

The town where we own a rental property had a meeting for landlords (by which I mean owners of rental property) recently. Those who attended reported learning that there are some new laws regarding ...
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  • 551
53 votes
3 answers
12k views

Can I sign legal documents with a smiley face?

The signature on my driver's license is a unique and identifiable smiley face :-) I use this signature to sign all legally binding documents. A lot of the time, people reject it, and request an &...
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50 votes
5 answers
15k views

How come the nude protesters were not arrested?

I read today about the Anti-Censorship Activists in New York (Warning! NSFW pictures inside link) who protested against Facebook while being totally nude out in the street. I'm also pretty sure ...
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50 votes
4 answers
11k views

Can an employer withhold pay for a fire drill?

Moved from WorkplaceSE. Recently there was a routine fire drill in an office building. As with most fire drills, it took about half an hour for the fire drill to complete and for everyone to get ...
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49 votes
5 answers
8k views

Why is the structure of the US Code so poor? (And would it even be legal to reorganize it?)

In the process of researching the legality of coil guns in Massachusetts (University engineering project), I stumbled across Cornell's Legal Information Institute, which offers what appears to be a ...
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48 votes
9 answers
38k views

Can I terminate an employee for qualifying for a job through a "degree mill?"

We have recently put together an HR unit, which reviewed all our employees and found that one has an unsatisfactory qualification (BA in Public Relations from an unaccredited college). HR suggested ...
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48 votes
5 answers
10k views

Can a Resident Assistant be told to ignore a lawful order?'

Today I have an interesting question involving Police, Fire and university administration. A little bit of background: for the past few years, my University has been involved in a small, awkward ...
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47 votes
6 answers
18k views

Can I forbid the government from using my patented invention?

(this is a purely hypothetical situation, for literary research) I've filed a patent on a certain technology for facial recognition/analysis, and as the patent holder I want to use my exclusivity to ...
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  • 717
47 votes
4 answers
12k views

Course of action in a criminal case when there is no conceivable defense

I am not a lawyer or a law student; my work is in mathematics, but I like to learn about criminal law as a hobby. I have spent some time googling and searching to find an answer to my question but ...
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  • 612
47 votes
3 answers
16k views

In Los Angeles can I defend my own property against looters?

Currently, there is looting being done in Los Angeles by many people who are pretending to protest against the killing of George Floyd (some others are actually protesting and a few people are helping ...
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  • 573
47 votes
2 answers
9k views

Would Trump's defence work in other courts?

Donald Trump's defence against incitement is essentially the ambiguity of his language: he never explicitly told the crowd to violently attack Congress, but he did use ambiguous words such as "...
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47 votes
3 answers
15k views

Can illegal aliens claim sanctuary in a church?

This tweet (as quoted in a Washington Post article), seems to suggest that illegal aliens can claim sanctuary in a church: #GuadalupeGarcia attorney says @ICEgov has lied to him and he will advise ...
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47 votes
4 answers
10k views

Why isn't a draft (conscription) slavery?

The 13th Amendment bans all slavery except for "a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." It doesn't appear to contain any language about military service or ...
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46 votes
4 answers
23k views

Is it legal for a supermarket to refuse to sell an adult beer if an adult with them doesn’t have their ID?

Today I went with my dad grocery shopping at a supermarket in New York (ShopRite) and he put a six-pack of beer in the cart. They then wouldn’t let him buy the beer because they couldn’t ID me (21, ...
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46 votes
11 answers
25k views

What if a law is literally impossible to follow?

This question originated from the Australian encryption debate, but I am mainly asking about the US. Just to keep things simple (if a bit absurd), suppose the US passed a law that says, Every ...
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46 votes
5 answers
21k views

If a signal person in California tells me to kill someone, do I have to do so?

According to California sample written driving test (problem 6): You see a signal person at a road construction site ahead. You should obey his or her instructions: A. Only if you see orange cones ...
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  • 517
46 votes
4 answers
17k views

Is it illegal to infringe copyright if your boss or your client ordered you to do it?

The first possible scenario is this: suppose you work in a company, and you need to install some software for a client. The software needs to be purchased, but the boss tells you to just download it ...
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45 votes
7 answers
12k views

USPS Back Room - Trespassing?

I go to my local post office nearly every day to drop off packages for online purchases. A couple of years ago, I had a van full and it would have taken many trips to bring them inside. I asked a ...
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45 votes
2 answers
17k views

Is it illegal to backup your hard drive if you have copyrighted software on it?

Is it illegal if you create a backup of an HDD that has copyrighted software installed on it? This could be anything from legally purchased games and or expensive popular graphics/video editing ...
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44 votes
3 answers
3k views

US jus soli edge case

Ok, so there is this border wall along the Southern border of the US. However, this wall is not constructed exactly at the border. There is an offset of quite some distance where land south of the ...
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  • 239
43 votes
5 answers
12k views

After buying from a brick & mortar shop they've contacted me to say buying things from them is consent to arbitration. Is this legal?

A few days ago I bought over-the-counter goods from a shop. There was no signature involved in this purchase. I walked up to the counter with off-the-shelf items, was asked for a phone number, paid in ...
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43 votes
3 answers
9k views

If Congress passed a bill written in a language other than English, would it be valid?

Suppose Congress passed a bill written in Spanish and the President signed it. Everything about the bill and the procedures by which it was written and passed were completely normal, other than the ...
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43 votes
2 answers
10k views

Is it a crime to take my own package from a delivery truck before it has reached my home?

Not that I would ever do this, but I'm curious: if I were to go into a stopped delivery truck and remove from it an item that is addressed to me, would this be a crime? If so what crime would it be? ...
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43 votes
2 answers
11k views

Are lawyers allowed to lie about the law during closing arguments?

In his closing arguments during the Kyle Rittenhouse case, the prosecution said (full quote) that “You lose the right to self-defence when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you’re the one ...
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42 votes
2 answers
11k views

Is the President at the top of all organ waiting lists?

In the United States, people can often wait for years on organ lists before receiving the organ they need. Does the President automatically move to the top of these lists, should they find themselves ...
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  • 531
42 votes
4 answers
8k views

How does NC's atheism prohibition fit with the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution?

In 1971, the US State of North Carolina rewrote its constitution. According to this source, one of the purposes of this was that "Ambiguities and sections seemingly in conflict with the U.S. ...
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  • 4,509
42 votes
4 answers
19k views

What are the legal repercussions of taking a stranger's picture in public?

With Snapchat and Instagram it is all too easy to abuse picture taking and really inexpensive to snap a photo of an unknowing stranger. If you are in public and will only post pictures online without ...
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42 votes
4 answers
14k views

Can UPS really trademark the color brown?

So, today as I received an email from UPS, I read the disclaimer at the end and it said: © 2016 United Parcel Service of America, Inc. UPS, the UPS brandmark, and the color brown are trademarks of ...
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41 votes
9 answers
37k views

How can I declare independence from the United States and start my own micro nation?

How can I take back my sovereignty from the American government and start my own micro nation? I've read about starting a foreign company with my name in all caps but I want a lawyer's answer.
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40 votes
10 answers
17k views

If I'm the CEO and largest shareholder of a public company, would taking anything from my office be considered as a theft?

To summarize it, I'll give an example: I'm Bill Gates. I own Microsoft. On a desk, there's a Microsoft Surface that is branded by my company. I decide to take it home and never bring it back, although ...
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  • 403
40 votes
4 answers
7k views

What's the problem with red ink?

I have repeatedly encountered lawyers who refuse to sign documents using red ink or accept documents that are signed in red ink. No one has been able to articulate exactly why in my conversations, but ...
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40 votes
4 answers
11k views

Can a soldier refuse to carry a weapon?

During WWII, Desmond Doss joined the US Army as a combat medic. Due to his religious belief in nonviolence, he refused to carry a weapon and was eventually allowed to do so, going on to win various ...
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40 votes
4 answers
14k views

Is it legal to have an abortion in another state or abroad?

Alabama passed new laws recently, making abortion a very limited option. In that context is it legal for a US national who lives in Alabama to have an abortion in another state where it is legal in ...
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