Friday, September 5, 2008

Issue ad regs postponed, drug sniffing dogs in parks, homeless banned and more

Free Speech
Free speech gets muddled in between the lines of rule-making of the GAB at their recent meeting. While the board didn’t take a formal vote at their last meeting (mainly because it is still up in the air whether or not they have the actual authority to regulate issue ads), they will be working on drafting a rule concerning ads and revisit the topic at their October meeting. This subject goes to the heart of free speech, the ability of all organizations to communicate with the public about the issues they care about, and how to make campaign finance and influencing voters fair.

Privacy Rights
Here’s an article about recent sweeps of public parks by police with drug sniffing dogs. The cops made some small busts of drug users, but the article is a rare example of newspapers detailing the boundaries of people’s rights. It also shows how 1.) police lie, and 2.) open air is searchable. For more on how everyone can interact with police while asserting their rights to privacy, to remain silent and to not consent to searches, visit this Know Your Rights page on the ACLU website.

Rights of the Poor
A recent article points out that the Brittingham Park plan to get rid of disorderly loiterers is working. But the article doesn’t ask anyone where the homeless people went or if they experienced an increase of police harassment or discrimination.

Reproductive Rights
Zweifel writes a solid column about the religious right’s support for Republican V.P. nominee Sarah Palin’s daughter. The spin from Palin’s supporters articulates how Palin’s family is human, subject to mistakes and should have their private decisions kept to themselves. Zweifel notes that this perspective comes from religious right figureheads who have been telling the rest of us how to raise our children and teach them (or not teach them at all, in the case of abstinence-only education mandates) about sex. For more on how the ACLU is challenging abstinence only education, visit our reproductive freedom webpage.

Student Rights
Dane County schools update their rules to bring clarity and more modern definitions to their policies. New regs on cell phones are an improvement that recognizes the ubiquity of this personal communications technology. However, it’s as important as ever for students and parents to read their school rules in the student handbook to understand their rights and the boundaries of what is allowed. Read on to get the scoop on how students can get kicked out of school for something that even looks like a gun and a student ID experiment at Verona that would require students to have IDs visible on lanyards at all times.

Check out this upcoming event which features an excellent speaker who is a former board member of the ACLU of North Carolina affiliate and frequent speaker at ACLU national conferences:

Community lecture: “Civil Liberties and the War on Terror – Past, Present, and Future” with Erwin Chermerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, UC-Irvine School of Law
When: Friday, September 19, 12:10 p.m.
Where: UW Memorial Union Play Circle Theater
The UW Law School Office of the Dean and the Institute for Legal Studies fall 2008 workshop series will focus on “Ideas and Innovations in Legal Scholarship.” Hosted by Kathryn Hendley, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, this series features current topics shared by legal scholars in our community and from across the country. Professor Howard Erlanger will provide the welcome for Chermerinsky who will doubtlessly give an in-depth, yet accessible talk on the history of threats to civil liberties in times of war and threats to national security. Worth checking out!