On Monday morning, the ACLU of Maine was fortunate to attend the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast, hosted by the NAACP Portland Branch. It was a inspiring event, honoring the legacy of Dr. King.
Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.
Pennsylvania Voter-ID Victory
Grainne wrote in her blog this week, "Our democracy is at its strongest when all our citizens are able to freely participate." Correspondingly, voting laws are designed to protect democracy and ensure free participation. Today, Pennsylvania state judge Bernard L. McGinley struck down a 2012 Voter-ID law – stating that the law does not further this goal.
Today, the Supreme Court heard one hour of oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley, the Massachusetts case that takes up the issue of abortion clinic buffer zones and free speech. While no decision has been reached in the case, the majority of the justices seem to lean against the buffer zone, characterizing the law as an unfair and excessive infringement on First Amendment rights. Some Justices opposed the buffer zone outright, suggesting that the current law is a one-sided restriction against anti-abortion speech.
Yesterday, a U.S. Appeals Court dealt a blow to what we know as "net neutrality," striking down FCC rules that prevented broadband companies from giving preferential treatment to the content providers who can afford to pay the most for it.
Last year our education program reached 41 different schools from all 16 counties. We did this through a combination of three student conferences in the fall and more than 20 classroom visits during the spring semester. This year we’re hoping to increase that number even more, and with most high schools a week away from midterms we’ve been busy getting ready to hit the road as soon as the spring semester begins.
For a number of years, the ACLU has worked to raise awareness of the "school to prison pipeline"--a product of over-policing of public schools, zero-tolerance policies directed at young people, and harsh punishments. The cumulative effect of these policies is a situation where many students--particularly in poorer areas of the country--travelled a seamless path from high school to the criminal justice system.
Consider for a moment how much you share about yourself over email, Facebook, Twitter, private blogs and the like. Many of us use these platforms to communicate far more than phones and snail-mail. Now imagine you are applying for a job, and your potential employer tells you that during application process they will be listening in on all your phone calls, reading your emails, and poking around your Facebook account - so please turn over your passwords. Only one of those things is illegal.