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
We had our annual staff retreat today, at the beautiful lakeside camp of wonderful and generous supporters. In addition to swimming and snacking and enjoying on each other's company, we took some time to reflect on what we achieved individually and as an organization over the past year. Reflecting back is not something that I generally spend a lot of time on, but as we worked through our lists I was taken by what a good year the ACLU of Maine has had since last summer.
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated the ACLU's challenge to the no-fly list, which was brought on behalf of people who were told that they could not fly on an airplane but were not told why. More importantly, the plaintiff were never told what (if anything) they could do to get their names off the no-fly list.
Writing in the Bangor Daily News today, Mal Leary reported that Maine lawmakers and the ACLU of Maine are concerned about drones. We appreciate the coverage of this important issue, and we certainly appreciate the company when it comes to insisting on safeguards of this powerful new technology.
The October 2011 Term of the United States Supreme Court ended today, and most of the national attention will be on Chief Justice Roberts' opinion upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act--rightly so, since millions of Americans lack adequate healthcare, and Congress should be able to do something about it. But the penultimate decision of the term--the opening act this morning--was also an opinion worth noticing.
Here at the ACLU of Maine, we do more than simply talk about the importance of religious freedom--we go to court to defend everyone's right to practice their beliefs free from government interference. But--and this is important--religious freedom does not mean that religious people have the right to impose your beliefs on anyone else.