Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.
Louisiana Adopts Texas-style Abortion Restrictions
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal signed new restrictions on abortion clinics into law on Thursday. The law singles out doctors who provide abortions and requires them to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. But physicians who provide abortions are often prevented from obtaining hospital privileges for several reasons, including the hospital's opposition to abortion and the hospital's financial interests - which will inevitably result in fewer doctors who can perform abortions and reduce women's access to this legal procedure. Similar laws have taken effect in five other states: Kansas, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Texas. The ACLU stated in a press release last month that these laws are part of a nationwide plan to pass restrictions that will shut down women's health centers and prevent women from accessing safe and legal abortions.
"Let me be clear: This law is not about women's health. It was designed by politicians – not doctors – to end access to safe, legal abortion," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "Opponents are waging a stealth war on abortion, and it's women and families who pay the price."
Read more about LA’s new abortion restrictions here.
Federal Appeals Court Demands Warrants In The Name of Privacy
On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled, for the first time, that a warrant is necessary for the government to obtain an individual’s stored cellphone location records.
“The appeals court’s opinion is a resounding defense of the Fourth Amendment’s continuing vitality in the digital age,” said American Civil Liberties Union Staff Attorney Nathan Freed Wessler, who argued the cellphone issues before the panel in April. “It puts police on notice that when they want to enlist people’s cellphones as tracking devices, they must get a warrant from a judge based on probable cause” that the records will provide evidence of a crime.
Read more about the case here.
This week, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Shearman & Sterling LLP launched a social media campaign to bring attention to the unacceptable living conditions at Suffolk County’s Riverhead jail, the real-life jail where parts of “Orange is the New Black” was filmed. The NYCLU first filed a lawsuit against Suffolk County on behalf of 100 detainees in its jails April 2012.
“If you saw what we have seen and heard happening in this jail, you might think that it is Hollywood pushing it, but in fact that’s the reality,” said Corey Stoughton, a senior staff attorney at NYCLU who has been working on the case. “These are not conditions that we think any human being should be held in.”
Read a copy of the official complaint filed by the NYCLU here.