For our annual holiday party last week I was tasked with providing music, which I took as a great excuse to assemble a collection of civil rights- and civil liberties-themed songs. Hoping to show how these types of songs have progressed over time, I made a point of picking at least one tune from every decade beginning with the 1930s. It’s fascinating to hear how much has changed in the sound of music over that time, yet sobering once you recognize just how many of the themes from those early songs are still just as relevant today.
In late July of this year, Tamara Loerstcher went to a Eau Claire, Wisconsin hospital seeking medical treatment for her untreated thyroid condition. Loerstcher had suspicions that she was pregnant – she was also using this hospital trip to get confirmation about her pregnancy. She was uninsured; she did not have a primary care physician. Loerstcher, who had used drugs in the recent past, disclosed her drug history to hospital workers. When the hospital workers found out that Loerstcher was 14 weeks pregnant, they had her placed in jail for endangering her fetus.
Last week, the ACLU of Maine participated in marches in Portland and Lewiston calling for racial justice and an end to violence. The marches were part of a nationwide response to multiple instances of excessive police violence against people of color that have gone unpunished.
On this day in 1791, the Commonwealth of Virginia voted to ratify 12 articles for addition to the U.S. Constitution. With 14 states comprising the union at that time, 11 were required to vote in favor of an amendment in order to reach the necessary ¾ threshold. With Virginia’s action that bar was met, and all the amendments became binding constitutional law – except for poor old Articles One and Two.
Earlier this week, the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology published a study done by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco that investigated post-abortion complication rates. Between 2009 and 2010, researchers traced rates of major complications following 54,911 legal abortions.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released guidance on the use of race by federal law enforcement agencies. These new guidelines, expanding upon guidance issued by the DOJ in 2003, follow the tragic deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown and Tamir Rice, and come at a time of increased public dialogue about the role of policing in America, particularly within communities of color.
Last week, the Department of Education released a very important guidance document for schools looking to offer single-sex classes. The crux of it is great news, and very much in line with what the ACLU has been saying for decades: single-sex education programs based on sex stereotypes are unlawful.
This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Young v. UPS, a case that asks whether or not pregnant employees must be granted the same work limitations as those granted to disabled and injured workers. The plaintiff in the case is Peggy Young, a woman who worked for UPS delivering letters and packages. She became pregnant while working for UPS and, based on her doctor’s recommendation, requested a light-duty position so that she wouldn’t have to lift packages weighing more than 20 pounds. UPS denied Young's request and forced her to take unpaid leave.
Last week, the United Nations Committee Against Torture issued a report in which it took the United States to task on a wide range of issues, from lack of accountability for torture and overuse of immigration detention to criminal justice practices and police accountability. This report came after a month spent reviewing U.S.