February 11th is a big day in mass surveillance. No, the government isn’t debuting round-the-clock aerial surveillance – although that could be coming soon. Rather, Tuesday is a big day because it’s a chance for us all to fight back against the idea that we should be watched and spied upon by our own government for no reason.


Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.

Freedom of Religion


Researchers Dr. Gretchen Sisson and Dr. Katrina Kimport of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) recently presented a study in which they identified and traced abortion-related story lines in American film and television since 1916. They found 310 pregnancy decision related story lines.


In last night's State of the State address, Gov. LePage rightly addressed the growth of opiate abuse in Maine. There is no doubt that rapidly increasing heroin use is cause for concern and action. However, the governor's assertion that the answer should come in the form of more Drug Enforcement Agency agents, drug prosecutors and drug court judges is not the answer.


This Sunday, we received the sad news that acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away in his New York apartment of an alleged drug overdose. Tragically he leaves behind a partner of fifteen year and their three children.


February is Black History Month and this year it carries some added weight due to a very special anniversary: It’s been 50 years since Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – a landmark moment in the struggle against discrimination and inequality.

We’re part of a group that’s organizing a year-long series of events to commemorate this special anniversary, which will not only look back at what the Civil Rights Act meant in the 1960’s, but also look ahead to see how we can continue the movement towards equity and justice in the face of continued resistance.

Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.


Pete Seeger’s Vision

Pete Seeger, singer, songwriter, peace activist, and civil liberties champion extraordinaire, died on Monday at age 94. The ACLU mourns the loss of a man who sang out in the name of freedom of expression and association.

He will be remembered for his articulate call to action:

“I’m fighting because

I want a better America, and better laws

And better homes, and jobs, and schools


In a victory for the privacy and dignity of transgender students, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court today ruled that a school district violated the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) when it required a transgender girl to use a separate bathroom rather than the bathroom used by all other female students. The ACLU of Maine and the national ACLU LGBT Project filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing for the importance of protecting minorities from discrimination, especially in situations where there is public controversy.


In 2008, the ACLU challenged the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) — the surveillance law that gives the NSA virtually unfettered access to the international phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens and residents — on behalf of a coalition of human rights, media, labor, and legal organizations in Clapper v.


Yesterday, the House voted to pass H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. On it’s surface, the bill seems like a simple redundancy. The Hyde Amendment makes it illegal to use federal funds for abortion care. This restriction has been solidly in place for over 35 years. There’s been no budging on the Hyde Amendment. In fact, legislative measures are frequently introduced and passed to ensure that the Hyde Amendment can’t be circumvented.


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