Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.
ACLU Sues U.S. Border Patrol’s Parent Agency, Customs and Border Protection
On Thursday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court to demand Customs and Border Protection (CBP) release a report critical of use-of-force practices.
Here’s the background: CBP commissioned the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent law enforcement research group, to create the report in response to demands from 16 members of Congress to investigate their practices. These demands were a reaction to a PBS-aired documentary by filmmaker Juan Carlos Frey.
In February, the ACLU requested that the report be released under the Freedom of Information Act. The CBP did not respond. Now, Homeland Security and CBP have 30 days to file a response. Read more on the issue here.
House Passes Limits on N.S.A.’s Phone Surveillance
In the words of Gabe Rottman, a policy advisor in the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office, "The ship is turning." The ship Rottman is referring to is the White House and Congress catamaran that has, in a rare moment, turned its bow in the direction of ending the N.S.A’s bulk phone records program.
In a 300-121 vote on Thursday, the House voted to pass the U.S.A. Freedom Act. The act seeks to halt bulk collection of phone data by saying that court orders — as well as administrative subpoenas for records called “national security letters” — may only be used to obtain records associated with a limited selection term.
The passage of this reform bill demonstrates a long-awaited evolution in Congress, which handed the intelligence community broad surveillance authority after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
"While far from perfect, this bill is an unambiguous statement of congressional intent to rein in the out-of-control NSA," stated Laura W. Murphy, the ACLU's Washington director.
Read more about the measure here.
PETA’s Freedom of Speech
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has agreed to allow PETA's anti-SeaWorld advertisement to be displayed at Lindbergh Field, after a lawsuit by PETA and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. After the airport advertising vendor JCDecaux refused to put up the ad for $17,500, PETA called attention to the government’s apparent discrimination against the message.
"Nothing is more fundamental to the 1st Amendment than the principle that government may not silence speech because of its viewpoint," said David Loy, legal director at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, which backed PETA in its lawsuit.
Read more about the issue here.