Updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation:

Celebrating Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, poet and life-long advocate for liberty and equality, passed away at the age of 86 last Wednesday. Through her speeches, books, poems, and words infused with the sense and spirit of the civil rights movement, she inspired a generation of activists. She worked with Martin Luther King Jr. on economic justice issues in the mid-1960s, marched with Gloria Steinem in the 1980s, befriended Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela, and mentored Oprah Winfrey. As the women's rights movement was rising, Angelou offered a female-centered vision that enriched the understanding of black life.

The ACLU of Maine celebrates Maya Angelou and her contributions to the arts and civil rights. Angelou’s courage and eloquence allowed her to navigate the intersecting worlds of literature and activism, and we honor her as a truly phenomenal woman.

 Legal Memo Relating to U.S. Targeted Killing Operations: To Be Released

Last Tuesday, the Obama administration announced that it would release a crucial Justice Department legal memo relating to U.S. targeted killing operations, which the government was ordered to do last month in an ACLU FOIA lawsuit. The memo will not be released right away because officials said they needed time to redact it.

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director and director of the Center for Democracy of the ACLU, said, “The government claims authority to carry out targeted killings of Americans deemed to threaten national security — the public surely has a right to know the breadth of the authority the government is claiming as well as the legal basis for that authority.”

Supreme Court Decides Hall v. Florida

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled last week that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution forbid the execution of persons with intellectual disability. Florida law rigidly defines intellectual disability as indicated by an IQ score of 70 or less. If a prisoner scores above 70, any further examination of intellectual disability is foreclosed. The Supreme Court found this law to create a risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed, and thus deemed the law unconstitutional.