Update: The voter ID bill is defeated, and the Legislature passes a law to continue providing assistance to some immigrants in need!
The last two weeks in the legislature have brought challenges to two of our most cherished values: the right of all qualified citizens to cast a ballot, and the right to fair treatment for all people, regardless of where they were born.
Last year I blogged about two State-of-the-State addresses: one by Maine's Governor LePage and the other given by Governor Shumlin of Vermont. Both Maine and Vermont have seen a drastic rise in heroin use rates; while Governor LePage trotted out disproven and antiquated drug war rhetoric, Governor Shumlin garnered national attention for calling for a new progressive health-based approach to combating addiction and pledged state money to expanding treatment options.
On Sunday night, in his acceptance speech for Best Original Song ("Glory," from the film Selma), well-known recording artist John Legend reminded us all that the struggle for justice is not over. In his speech he said:
The Academy Awards and civil liberties don’t always go hand in hand, but at last night’s ceremony there were a few surprising moments of synergy between Hollywood and the issues we deal with every day at the ACLU.
First, with the awards themselves, the winner of “Best Documentary Feature” was CITIZENFOUR, a behind-the-scenes account of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing and the events that followed his decision to reveal the extent of American surveillance tactics. We’ve screened this film here in Maine and are delighted that it has earned an Academy Award.
A trial began yesterday for a lawsuit that challenges Alaska’s regulations that restrict abortions for low-income women. The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Susan Orlansky, an Anchorage attorney, on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.