The bill titles for Maine's upcoming legislative session were published this week, and we’re now getting a sense for what our reproductive rights fights are going to look like for the next few months. As far as we can tell, we’ve got two bills related to reproductive rights and one bill related to religious freedom that might have implications for reproductive rights. One bill is proactive – i.e., expanding and protecting reproductive rights. We'll be on the defensive on the other two bills that threaten to restrict reproductive rights.
If you’re feeling the winter blues and want to get out for some excitement, the next several weeks are chock full of unique civil liberties events. You can always find a complete listing of what’s happening on our events page, but given that we’ve got five listings coming up in the span of just three weeks, here’s a quick rundown of each. We hope to see you at one or more of these!
I'm used to writing about how judges rule in free speech cases, but I believe this is the first time I've had occasion to write about how a judge applies the First Amendment in his own courtroom. The First Amendment gives the press (and the public) the right to publish what government officials say and do. This allows us to hold government officials accountable when they do something that we don't like, and this "self-government" principle is one of the strongest justifications we have for our freedom of speech.
In comparison to 2013, 2014 brought us a reduction in the amount of anti-abortion bills that went before state legislatures. It’s early yet, but it looks like 2015 will see a re-opening of the floodgates for legislation that restricts abortion. Anti-abortion advocates in at least nine states have prefiled bills that would unnecessarily regulate and restrict abortion.
The Portland Press Herald recently ran two pieces discussing data recently released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which shows that Maine has the lowest rate of criminal justice involvement of any state in the country. The first, originally published in the Washington Post, compares Maine to states like Texas, California and Georgia and discusses the general trend towards declining prison populations.
What a year it has been! And we couldn’t have done it without you. For my very first blog post, I bring you a look back at some of our favorite moments of 2014, none of which would have been possible without your support:
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.