Wonderful news from Louisiana yesterday! A Federal Judge has ordered the release of Herman Wallace - a member of the so-called Angola 3 - who has been held in solitary confinement for over 40 years. The Judge called for the “immediate release of Mr. Wallace from custody,”denying the state's motion to block his early order that overturned Herman's four-decade-old murder conviction.
In 1967, the Supreme Court famously ruled that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” In doing so, the Court rejected Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute as unconstitutional, thus ending all race-based restrictions on marriage across the United States. Like most landmark rulings, the story behind Loving vs. Virginia is not just about the legal issues, it’s also about the people who were affected and how they fought to get justice. On Wednesday, you can hear that amazing story.
Last week I stood at the edge of a field, watching a father and his two young sons chase each other across the grass. The field was half as wide as a football field and twice as long. The boys darted in and out of a line of trees as they made their way toward the other end. It was cute, and it was illegal.
I recently watched a segment of the PBS documentary Brains on Trial titled “Deciding Punishment.”Through the use of a fictional trial, this segment explored the relationship between neuroscience and our current criminal justice system. It paid special attention to the development of the adolescent brains and how its affects decision making, revealing how its immaturity makes young people more likely to act in an impulsive and foolish manner they may later regret.
Happy Banned Books Week! This is the 31st year that the freedom to read will be officially honored. If you visit a local bookstore this week you may well find displays of challenged books or other events dealing with censorship. Here at the ACLU of Maine, we’re also getting in on the weeklong celebration – and you can join us!
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recognized that "liking" something on Facebook is a form of constitutionally-protected expression. The case involved six former employees of the Hampton Sheriff's Office in Virginia, who claimed that they were fired from their jobs for "liking" the Facebook page of a candidate for Sheriff who was running against their boss.
Last week the Lewiston Sun Journal published two articles focused on the controversial law LD 1515, which would have transferred forensic patients (people found not criminally responsible or incompetent to stand trial) from the Riverview State Psychiatric Hospital to a new mental health unit located within the Maine State Prison. Not surprisingly this proposal was met with considerable opposition.
The Bill of Rights was intended to protect us all from unreasonable government intrusions into our lives. Nearly three decades ago, Congress recognized that the courts were not keeping up with the times, so it passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to preserve privacy rights in electronic communications. While ECPA established some critical protections, it was written in an era with no Google, no Facebook, no World Wide Web. Now, it is woefully out of date.