Yesterday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments in a First Amendment challenge to a South Portland ordinance that prohibited all city employees from running for, or serving in, city elected office. The lead plaintiff in the case was a part-time librarian, who served for years on the South Portland Board of Education.
There are approximately 238,000 jobs in the United States military that are not open to women, and that is not right. This past week, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of two Marines, an Army Soldier, and an Air Force Pilot, as well as the Service Women's Action Network, against the United States Secretary of Defense to end the discriminatory exclusion of women from combat positions.
For a number of years now, the ACLU of Maine has helped train lawyers to fan out across the state on election day to make sure that nobody is harassed or intimidated or otherwise prevented from voting. Generally speaking, there are rarely major problems. Elections in Maine work very well, and Mainers are generally very respectful of one another--even when the election itself is hard-fought.
My favorite banned book is also the subject of one of my favorite First Amendment cases (and one of my favorite ACLU cases). In Ulysses, James Joyce attempts to capture every moment of everyday life, in as much detail as possible, and everyday life (at least according to Joyce) includes a great deal of frank thought (and a small bit of explicit action) of a sexual nature. Characters notice the physical qualities of one another, they recall sexual situations from their pasts, and they plan sexual encounters for their future.
We were in Court this morning defending internet free speech. Our client published a blog about a candidate for office that contained news and commentary--generally types of speech that are exempt from regulation. But, the statute at issue only exempt traditional media--television, radio, newspapers, magazines and other periodicals.
This week, we got a call at the office from a woman who was told that she could not stick a political sign on her front yard. Then, we got another one. Then another. And then one more--all from different parts of the state. What was happening?
Tonight, the Maine Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections will hold the first of six planned public hearings to give members of the public a chance to share information. Here is the schedule for the planned hearings:
Augusta – Aug. 23, at 5:30 p.m. at UMA in the Richard J. Randall Student Center, Rm. 138
Portland – Aug. 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Portland Public Library in the Rines Auditorium (Lower Level)
Bangor – Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Bangor City Hall in the City Council Chambers
Farmington – Sept. 27 at 5:45 p.m. at UMF in Dining Hall C