Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.
Indeed, drones are on our horizon. On Monday, the FAA announced the location of six sites for testing integrating drones into domestic airspace. The states include Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. Catherine Crump, a Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology calls for strong and uniform privacy rules. “Someday drones will be commonplace in U.S. skies and, before that happens, it's imperative that Congress enact strong, nationwide privacy rules." Read more about the ACLU’s concerns on the future of domestic drones here.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2013, 22 states adopted 70 different restrictions on abortions. Nearly half of the United States! These restrictions include late-abortion bans, doctor and clinic regulations, limits on medication abortions, and bans on insurance coverage. A graph produced by the New York Times offers a visual representation of this incredible (and terrifying) spike in abortion restrictions in our country.
On Monday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over a new Texas abortion law. The law states that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at local hospitals – creating a substantial obstacle to abortion access as it forced one-third of the state’s abortion clinics to close. The court will issue an official ruling in a matter of weeks.
And, on the national front, an even more dangerous bill has resurfaced. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice (all male, I might add) held a hearing on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. It’s the ghost of legislative sessions past (2011) back to haunt us. Here’s a summary of the bill. I applaud Rep. Ted Deutch for his passionate speech against the bill.
There is a lot to get fired up about. It seems appropriate to turn to a recent TEDx interview with Gloria Steinem: “We need to understand the importance of telling our stories. We are battling on safe and legal abortion in part because women aren’t saying it as much as we did [in the 70s]. 1 in 3 American women has needed an abortion at some time in her life. Tell that story.”
Victory! On Tuesday of last week, a federal judge struck down a Florida law that required drug testing for welfare applicants. ACLU National Staff Attorney Jason Williamson stated in a blog post: “Mandatory and suspicionless drug tests are invasive, offensive, ineffective, and – as of this week – officially unconstitutional.” This decision sets the stage for a legal battle that could affect similar efforts nationwide.
Insane Clown Posse
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, of the Insane Clown Posse, are teaming up with the ACLU to sue the FBI. Why? The FBI included their fans, known as Juggalos, in a 2011 FBI report as a “loosely organized hybrid gang” whose members were “expanding into many U.S. communities.” Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director stated yesterday: "Branding hundreds of thousands of music fans as gang members based on the acts of a few individuals defies logic and violates our most cherished of constitutional rights."
As you may have already seen on our website, our Communications Director Rachel Healy weighed in on the issue too. “The lawsuit argues that the constitutional rights of Juggalos to expression and association, both First Amendment Rights, were violated when the government wrongly and arbitrarily classified the entire fan base as a criminal gang. Our interest in this is in the dampening of their right of freedom of expression and association brought on by that unfair blanket classification.” Read the full interview here.