Monthly Archives: September 2023

Congress saves itself from further ridicule

On Wednesday September 27, 2023, Congress voted to clarify that politicians should wear “business attire” when they’re on the floor of the chamber.

Here are excerpts from THE HILL:

The Senate voted Wednesday night to require that business attire be worn on the floor of the chamber, following backlash from both sides over Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) move to relax the dress code last week. 

The resolution, from centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), comes just over a week after Schumer announced he would loosen the Senate’s dress code, a move that was seen by some as a way to accommodate Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), who is often spotted on Capitol Hill wearing shorts and hoodies instead of suits. 

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike criticized Schumer’s decision, with some calling it disrespectful to the upper chamber. 

The vote came in the midst of both chambers racing to avert a shutdown at the end of the week.

The resolution seeks to “clarify the dress code” for the Senate floor. It requires men to wear a coat, tie, slacks and other long pants.

Speaking with The Hill last week, Fetterman denied he was the driving force behind the rule change. 

Manchin told The Hill last week he spoke with Fetterman directly and told the Pennsylvania lawmaker he thought he changes to the dress code were “wrong” and that not wearing a traditional suit and tie on the Senate floor “degrades” the chamber. 

“And I think it’s in keeping with that spirit that we say we want those who serve inside this room, in this hall, to show a level of dignity and respect which is consistent with the sacrifice they made and with the beauty of the surroundings,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said on the floor Wednesday.”

Fetterman responded to the vote on X, formerly known as Twitter, with a meme photo of Kevin James.

Camouflaged Game Wardens sneaking into private land

Josh soon discovered who the camouflaged prowler was. Game wardens from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources had sneaked onto his land to search for evidence of hunting violations.

This is quite a story from the Institute of Justice. If you ever have questions as to who to donate to, this is the group to support.


Josh Highlander bought 30 acres of land in Virginia at the end of a quiet residential street lined with single-family homes. He built a home there surrounded by woods. And he posted “no trespassing” signs around the perimeter of the property. Surely that was enough to secure his family’s right to privacy and seclusion on their own land, right? 

Wrong, at least according to game wardens in Virginia and around the country. Ironically, they see the very things that most people think of as sources of privacy—like living on a large piece of property surrounded by nature—as an invitation to snoop on private land without a warrant. The U.S. Supreme Court greenlit these intrusions almost 100 years ago during Prohibition, when it held that the Fourth Amendment does not protect “open fields.” Under this misguided theory, the woods and fields around your home are not sources of seclusion but opportunities for government surveillance.  

Watch the case video!

Josh found this out the hard way. His wife and young son were playing basketball in the yard when the ball rolled toward the woods. As Josh’s wife went to retrieve it, she noticed among the trees a stranger dressed in full camouflage. Alarmed, she rushed inside to alert Josh. By the time he got outside, the intruder was gone, but the violation of his family’s privacy remained. For weeks afterward, his son was afraid the stranger might be lurking in the woods again and wouldn’t go outside alone. 

Josh soon discovered who the camouflaged prowler was. Game wardens from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources had sneaked onto his land to search for evidence of hunting violations. Earlier that day, game wardens had accused Josh’s brother of hunting over bait (an accusation he denies) miles away in a different county. Josh has never been cited for violating hunting regulations, but that day his family ties apparently cast suspicion on him, too. 

What happened to Josh and his family is no aberration. Around the country, game wardens and other law enforcement routinely trespass on private land without a warrant to hunt for evidence. A key goal of IJ’s Project on the Fourth Amendment is to put an end to these warrantless intrusions onto private land. Our suit protecting Josh’s privacy under the Virginia Constitution joins IJ’s growing body of work fighting similar warrantless searches of open fields under the Pennsylvania and Tennessee constitutions.  

As more state courts reject the misguided open fields doctrine, we hope to eventually persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to abandon the doctrine, too. But whether in federal court or state by state, we’ll continue this fight until all Americans regain their right to be secure against warrantless searches of their private land.

Joe Gay is an IJ attorney.