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.
It took two years, two Education Committee votes, two Appropriations Committee votes, and thirteen different votes in the Senate and House, but at approximately 3:00 am this morning, the Maine Legislature passed meaningful legislation to address the growing problem of bullying in our schools. The ACLU of Maine worked with a number of wonderful organizations--the Maine Women's Lobby, GLAD, EqualityMaine, GLSEN, the Maine Children's Alliance, the Maine Education Association, and many others to help make this legislation possible.
Today, a federal court in Florida ruled that my home state's program of randomly drug testing state employees violates the Constitution. It was a great victory, after years of hard work by our ACLU colleagues in Florida and the Florida chapter of AFSCME, who were the plaintiffs in the suit.