Friday, February 29, 2008

National news - Terrorist Watch List, FISA Fight Continues, and more

February 29, 2008

Congress Must Stand Up to Bush Fear-Mongering over FISA

Two weeks ago, leaders in the House finally stood up to President Bush’s fear-mongering and his dangerous demands, including presidential spying powers that defy the Constitution and retroactive immunity for telecom companies that turned over private information without a warrant.

There’s no predicting what happens next -- and no guaranteeing that House leaders will continue to hold the line. That’s why the ACLU is pulling out all the stops -- we ran an ad in USA Today on Tuesday to frame the debate, we’re gathering tens of thousands of signatures urging House leaders to stand their ground, and soon, we will be launching "Calling for Freedom," an all-out calling campaign aimed at flooding Congress with our message.

Click here to see the ad.

>> Take action: Tell Congress: "Keep Standing Up to Bush Fear Mongering".

>> Ask your friends to sign the petition.


Supreme Court Refuses to Review Warrantless Wiretapping Case

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the ACLU’s petition asking it to hear ACLU v. NSA, our case against the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The ACLU filed this case two years ago to put an end to government spying on innocent Americans through National Security Agency surveillance.

From the start, the government’s argument has been that the case should be dismissed under the state secrets privilege, but that did not convince the district court in Michigan, which ruled that the NSA’s program is unconstitutional and should be stopped. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, asserted that our plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been tapped and dismissed the case.

"Although we are deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s refusal to review this case, it is worth noting that today’s action says nothing about the case’s merits and does not suggest in any way an endorsement of the lower court’s decision," said Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU. "The court’s unwillingness to act makes it even more important that Congress insist on legislative safeguards that will protect civil liberties without jeopardizing national security."

>> Read more about unchecked government surveillance.


Government Again Downplays Widespread Racism Before U.N. Committee

Click here to learn about racial discrimination in your state.

Representatives from over 125 U.S.-based social justice organizations last week observed a session at the United Nations where an international panel of experts closely scrutinized the U.S. human rights record regarding racial discrimination.

High-ranking U.S. government officials had to answer very tough questions about racial discrimination in the United States. Yet, they continued to downplay the effects of widespread discrimination in this country during questioning before the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Throughout the hearings, the CERD committee questioned the government delegation on several issues raised by the ACLU in its 2007 report, Race & Ethnicity in America: Turning a Blind Eye to Injustice. The ACLU’s report examines human rights violations, including events that took place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, escalating police brutality and racial profiling, the dramatic increase in anti-immigrant acts and practices, the exploitation of migrant workers, and the “school to prison pipeline,” whereby the criminal justice system overzealously funnels students of color out of classrooms and on a path toward prison.

"It takes more than empty words and unenforced laws to claim high moral ground and leadership on human rights," said Jamil Dakwar, Advocacy Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. "To be true to its ideals and to fulfill its treaty obligations, the U.S. must take vigorous and proactive measures against racial and ethnic inequality."

>> Read the ACLU’s report, Race & Ethnicity in America, and blog posts from ACLU staff who were in Geneva.


Terrorist Watch List Nears One Million

It wasn’t long after 9/11 that we began hearing from Americans who were having problems getting on airplanes because, they were told, their names were on terrorist watch lists. In typical Bush Administration style, these systems had been roughly thrown together with little thought for questions of guilt or innocence or fairness to those unfairly targeted.

In the years since, our nation's out-of-control watch lists have received a lot of terrible publicity, such as when famous people like Sen. Ted Kennedy or Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) got trapped on them, or when 60 Minutes discovered that the list included the president of Bolivia, dead people, and dozens of common American names like Robert Johnson and John Williams. Despite all this publicity, and the problems faced by thousands or millions of frustrated innocent American citizens, the problem has not gotten better. In fact, it has gotten even worse.

Based on numbers contained in a report issued by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, the watch list is growing by 20,000 records a month — and now exceeds 917,000 people. And it’s growing by the minute — a growth that you can view in real time on our new page, which displays a rolling, real-time counter showing how many names are on the list, according to that DOJ report.

>> Learn more about the ACLU Watch List Counter.


Order To Shut Down Wikileaks.org Violates First Amendment

The ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a motion this week to intervene in a lawsuit that led a federal district judge to order the domain name Wikileaks.org shut down. The motion is on behalf of organizations and individuals that have accessed and used documents on the Wikileaks.org website in their work and want to continue to be able to do so.

The website was established to allow participants to anonymously disclose documents of public interest, including materials discussing such issues of national importance as U.S. Army operations at Guantánamo Bay, human rights abuses in China, and political corruption in Kenya.

Earlier this month, Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California ordered domain registrar Dynadot, LLC to shut down the domain name Wikileaks.org based on allegations that a former employee of Swiss Bank Julius Baer posted documents on the website that highlighted the bank’s dealings in the Cayman Islands.

The permanent injunction has the effect of blocking access to all of the content contained on the website accessed through the domain name Wikileaks.org, even though the overwhelming majority of those documents and materials are unrelated to the Bank Julius Baer complaint and concern matters of significant public interest.

“The public has a right to receive information and ideas, especially ones concerning the public interest,” said Aden Fine, senior staff attorney with the ACLU. “This injunction ignores that vital First Amendment principle.”

The ACLU and EFF are seeking to intervene on behalf of themselves; the Project on Government Oversight, which works to investigate systemic waste, fraud, and abuse in all federal agencies; and Jordan McCorkle, a student at the University of Texas who uses the website on a regular basis.

>> Read the ACLU’s motion.


ACLU Sues to Protect Marriages Threatened by Recent Court Decision

The ACLU of Pennsylvania began a statewide challenge to a recent court decision that invalidates marriages presided over by a minister who doesn’t regularly serve in a physical church or house of worship.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of three couples married in Pennsylvania by clergy who do not regularly preach in a church or to an established congregation. The couples seek judicial declarations that their marriages are valid under Pennsylvania law. The ruling potentially affects thousands of marriages, such as ACLU plaintiffs Peter Goldberger and Anna Durbin who were married in 1976.

"What we want is to fix a problem that never should have existed in the first place," said Mary Catherine Roper, staff attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "The state has no business invalidating marriages just because it doesn’t like the kind of minister who officiated them."

The issue arose in September 2007 when York County Judge Maria Musti Cook ruled that the marriage of Dorie Heyer and Jacob Hollerbush was invalid because it had been performed by a minister of the Universal Life Church who obtained his ordination over the Internet. In Heyer v. Hollerbush, the court held that the marriage never existed because the minister who solemnized it did not serve a congregation or preach in a physical house of worship.

>> Read more about this case.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Close Guantanamo ribbons make a debut at the Oscars

Did anyone catch the Oscars award show on television? There were some folks making a statement about detainment, torture and denial of Habeas Corpus by wearing orange ribbons attached to their Oscar-ready dresses and tuxes.

Are ribbons passe and ugly? Or is orange the new power color? A Washington Post article considers the debate but without much detail on why the ACLU wants to Close Guantanamo. Best Actress nominee, Julie Christie, gets interviewed by ABC after the awards and mentions why she is wearing the ribbon.

Donors to the ACLU's Close Guantanamo campaign can get an orange armband. Wear an orange ribbon today to show your support of due process and human rights.

Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images

Find out more about the Close Guantanamo orange ribbon campaign on the national ACLU blog.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Loss of civil rights atty Julian, immigration hearing

Here are some bits of liberty news from today...

Civil Rights Attorney Percy Julian
Here's a nice article that notes the passing of Madison civil rights and liberties attorney, Percy Julian. The article points to both the leadership and progress that Julian made, but also notes the PBS special on Percy's father, a race barrier-breaking chemist. You can check out the documentary on the PBS website which includes a recording of Julian Jr. talking about his father's example and his love of tulips. Something to think about as Madisonians look for signs of spring.

Immigration hearing
The State Journal printed a wrap-up of a hearing on immigration with the Dane County Sheriff's office on Monday night. Another Cap Times article points out how moving the hearing to a bigger room made for less than perfect conditions. There was also video coverage by WKOW (ABC), Channel 3000, and NBC 15 which was the only story to mention that a Dane County ordinance was passed in 2002 that prevents law enforcement from asking people about their immigration status. Reports from people who attended the hearing said that the two speakers who were featured in the news reports were the only ones who spoke in favor of greater reporting of immigration violators. The overwhelming majority of attendees where opposed to it.

Action Alert from the ACLU on spying

Has fear-mongering run its course?

The battle in Congress over out-of-control government spying could be summed up like this: Bush administration strong-arming versus the will of the people. That's why we need your signature on the ACLU's "Keep Standing Up to Bush Fear-Mongering" petition.

The Bush administration is still trying with all its might to force Congress to grant the President broad spying powers and to give immunity to telecom companies that cooperated with illegal government eavesdropping.

We’ve extended our petition deadline to send the strongest message to Congress: “Keep Standing Up to Bush Fear-Mongering!” Sign the petition here.

Yesterday, thousands of ACLU supporters helped us run a powerful ad in USA Today. We praised House leaders for standing firm and letting the dangerous and poorly named Protect America Act expire. And we urged them to keep standing up to Bush’s scare tactics.

Now, something noteworthy is happening. Bush administration fear-mongering is falling flat, in spite of administration officials issuing ominous warnings. Republicans have even launched a deceptive TV ad in the sensationalist style of the television drama “24.” But, the American people aren’t falling for it. And so far, House leaders aren’t either.

With continued leadership from Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer, we must keep fear merchants on the run and insist that Congress pass domestic surveillance legislation that keeps us safe and free.

There’s no predicting what happens next and no guaranteeing that House leaders will continue to hold the line. That’s why the ACLU is pulling out all the stops. We ran the USA Today ad to frame the debate. We’re gathering tens of thousands of signatures urging House leaders to stand their ground. And soon, we will be launching “Calling for Freedom,” an all-out calling campaign aimed at flooding Congress with our message.

So please, sign our petition now and pay close attention to your ACLU emails in the crucial days ahead. Thanks for all you are doing.

Sincerely,
Caroline Fredrickson, Director
ACLU Washington Legislative Office

P.S. This is the time for outreach. Please forward this petition-signing request to as many people as possible.The more leaders in Congress hear from people like you, the better our chances of holding the line against spying without warrants and law-breaking without consequences.

Your voice is being heard. Let’s not stop now. Sign our petition today.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Don't Vote forum stirs debate, go to prison - forget about health care, and other news

Here are some news tidbits from today...

"Don't Vote" forum publicity on campus stirs some sharp criticism and inspires hostility.

Bad docs in the prison system? Maybe just a bad system. The ACLU gets a high volume of prisoner complaints about lack of medical attention. Readers who have little sympathy with the prisoner-patient who died might ask themselves: if two men committed the same crime and one was healthy and the other denied treatment for a chronic health condition (in this example, adequate breathing support), are they serving the same sentence? Are they being punished equally?

Cap Times blasts UWM student government for trying to pass a student "sedition act" after critical articles in the campus newspaper. Here's the original UWM Post article with a quote from the ACLU of Wisconsin

Seems like Sen. Grothman and Rep. Tauchen think that life is pretty bad for white men and that affirmative action is no longer needed. They want men to be judged by the content of their character (state contract bids) instead of the color of their skin. When racism is systemic, should we trust white men who say that programs to break the racial glass ceiling are no longer needed?

Prison Town USA screening tomorrow

Here's a quick reminder of the public screening of the film Prison Town USA tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 26) at 6:30 p.m. at the Fountain of Life church, 633 W. Badger Rd. The film illustrates how the industry of prisons impacts local workers and economies.



The film is a part of the series, “The Community Forums on Race and Diversity”, co-sponsored by the Madison area Urban Ministry along with other community organizations and businesses. For more information, contact Jackie Austin at (608) 256-0906.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tell the TSA what you think about airport security - TSA's new blog

Did anyone catch NPR's On The Media story this weekend about the Transportation Security Administration's new blog?

Looks like hot topics in airport security are introduced, explained and defended on the blog which allows for comments. There is a post addressing the what-if-I-have-a-pin-in-my-hip question. There is a place to vent about the inconsistencies from one airport security to the next. The disclaimer for the blog describes the purpose of the blog to be one of on-going exchange of ideas rather than a place to report specific conflicts to be addressed.

Whether or not the federal government will do anything about the actual experiences of people going through airport security (Anyone else find it to be a bit humiliating ? Anyone else have a special attachment to keeping their feet covered and their pants held up?) will remain to be seen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wisconsin's same-day voter registration threatened

Did anyone catch the story about Wisconsin's primary election on NPR's Morning Edition this morning?

With sounds of a local coffeeshop in the background (I must have shown up right after the story was recorded - or Cap Times Associate Editor John Nichols lives there - likely both), Nichols was quoted on the openness of Wisconsin's primaries and elections. He mentioned that Wisconsin has one of the most open elections system in the country, one where you can not only vote for whomever you wish (no party restrictions in primary voting) but you can also register on the day you vote.

Same-day voter registration in Wisconsin is currently under attack. There has been a bill introduced in the Assembly to end same-day voter registration that if passed would complicate the voting process for the Wisconsin citizens who want to participate in their democracy. The people who would be most affected are students, anyone who moves near election time, younger/new/infrequent voters, or simply busy working folks. We should be in the business of encouraging participation in our democracy, not turning people away from the polls who would otherwise be eligible to vote.

You can get ahead by finding out if you are registered to vote now. If you voted in the last election (November '06) and haven't moved, you're ready to vote again. If you live in Madison, you can visit the city clerk's website for more information. Not in Madison but live in Wisconsin? Check out the WI Government Accountability Board's Elections Division website. They have a new "Voter Public Access" database (thanks to the HAVA/Accenture statewide voter list) where all you need is your name and birth date and you can find your polling location along with a very complete list of all of the elected officials who represent and serve you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Civil Liberties News in Review - 02/11/08

Check out some of the civil liberties related news that has been making headlines recently.

Safe and Free
Warantless wiretapping

Russ Feingold makes a statement on the Senate agreement over FISA bill Feingold's recent press release details the amendments that Feingold and other Senate civil libertarians are supporting and why they will protect American's privacy from the government's abuse of power through warantless wiretapping. The New York Times weighs in on the issue in a recent editorial.

Visit the national ACLU website for a complete background on the ACLU's work to protect American's privacy through FISA.


Voting Rights
After Wisconsin's noted author Lorrie Moore wrote in an New York Times opinion piece chastizing Democrats for a failure of leadership to restore voting rights for disenfranchised felons, ACLU member Mary Jo Schiavoni responded in a letter to the Wisconsin State Journal about what work the ACLU and the Restore The Vote partners are doing to fix our outdated, racist law. If Moore thinks that not enough is being done nationally, the ACLU of Wisconsin can point to specific work being done in our backyards to make it so anyone who isn't behind bars can vote.


Upcoming Community Events
Here are some upcoming events in the Madison community that civil libertarians might be interested in. The ACLU of Wisconsin is not a co-sponsor or official endorser of any of these events, so please look below for event contacts for more information.

"Revolution's Wallpaper" art show
Now through March 11
UW-Madison Memorial Union, Class of 1925 Gallery (2nd F.)
Revolution's Wallpaper - a collection of Vietnam War-era posters, broadsides, flyers, leaflets, newspapers, and photos. These are all items collected in Madison between 1967 and 1975 by then UW student and now Regent St. Co-op finance officer, Chris Huberty.


Kicked to the Curb, Yet Again - Community Activists' Story Brings to Light Plight of Homeless
Tuesday, February 12, Noon
1001 Dane St. (corner of Dane & Old Park)
Homeless activists, their allies, and community leaders will hold a press conference in preparation for a second meeting with the mayor and other city officials. Operation Welcome Home, a community organization of mostly Black low-income people and their allies organizing for their rights, basic needs, individual empowerment and community self-determination will share their story of moving off of the streets and renting a house - that is, until they got kicked out. For more information, call (608) 345-0545 or visit the Operation Welcome website.


Privacy as a Political Value lecture
Wednesday, February 13, 4:00 p.m.
UW-Madison, Rm. 206 Ingraham Hall
Privacy as a Political Value – talk with Prof. Sarah Igo, Dept. of History, Univ. of PA. Sponsored by the A.E. Havens Center.


For the Love of Liberation! A Music & Poetry Benefit for Juan Ruiz' Legal Defense Fund & for Universal Immigrant
Rights

Fri. Feb. 15th 9:00 pm Emma Goldman Co-op (625 N. Frances St.)
Event will feature:
* DJ Pain1 & MC Starr (hip-hop)
* Son Jarocho (Mexican folk)
* Ali Muldrow (spoken word)
* Lifeline (hip-hop)
* Sofia Snow (spoken word)
* Synchronized Minds (hip-hop)
* Cecilia León (spoken word)
* John & Juelz (beatbox kings)
* Daniel Dharam (acoustic)
* hosted by Josh Healey
* and featuring Juan Ruiz (poetry/drums/spirit)

Plus indymedia footage of the November '07 demonstration at the U.S.-Mexican border where Juan was beaten, arrested, and threatened with deportation. Suggested donation $5-10. Find out more about Juan Ruiz' arrest at FreeJuanRuiz.Blogspot.com.


American Blackout film screening and discussion
Monday, February 18, 7:00 p.m.
Escape Jave Joint (916 Williamson St.)
To mark President's Day, there will be a screening and discussion of American Blackout, the Sundance Film Festival's 2006 Special Jury Prize Award. The film tackles the issue of contemporary U.S. disenfranchisement of Africa–Americans by exposing the fraud behind presidential election results in 2000 (Florida) and 2004 (Ohio), and parallel efforts (ultimately successful) by centrist Democrats and "cross-over" Republicans to unseat Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and her struggles against them. Donations welcome to cover room rental. Sponsored by the Peregrine Forum, (608) 442-8399.


Criminal Justice in Wisconsin: Effective Strategies for Change
Saturday, February 23, 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Edgewood College, Anderson Auditorium

Morning speakers will include Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, speaking on the Governor’s Commission on Reducing Racial Disparity in Wisconsin’s Justice System; Representative Mark Pocan on the work of the ad hoc committee on Effective Strategies for Community Justice; Anthony Streveler of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections discussing the Council of State Government’s Justice Reinvestment Project; and Judge Carl Ashley, who serves on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s sub-committee for more effective strategies for justice; Rev. Jerry Hancock who will address current trends in Restorative Justice; District Attorney John Chisholm speaking on Milwaukee County’s efforts to develop community alternatives; and County Executive Kathleen Falk and Scott McDonell, chair of the County Board, addressing what is happening in Dane County.

The final portion of the forum will include three concurrent sessions: the first will continue the discussions of the morning to explore future needs; the second will focus on what Catholics can do to minister to those who are incarcerated; and the third session will be the annual general meeting of the Task Force on Money, Education and Prison.

There is no fee or formal pre-registration, but if you plan to attend please contact Edgewood College by Feb. 20th at heffern@edgewood.edu or (608) 663-2218.

National Director of the ACLU speaks to students, Eau Claire community members

As a part of The Forum series through the UW-Eau Claire student Activities and Programs office, national ACLU Director Anthony Romero spoke to students and community members about leadership in difficult times on Thursday, February 7.

The topics Romero covered were many, but below are some links to some of the things he discussed. Be sure to explore the pages for ways to take action!


Real ID: http://www.realnightmare.org or take action by telling the government directly that you think Real ID is a real nightmare.

Voting Rights: ACLU voting rights page, includes information on restoring the vote to the formerly incarcerated. Find out more about the Restore the Vote coalition in Wisconsin by visiting the new ACLU of Wisconsin voting rights page or stay up to date on the Restore the Vote blog.

Close Guantanamo: Learn more about the past six years of detention without trial. Take action with this activist's toolkit.

Romero's book - In Defense of Our America: Get the book online at the ACLU store.


Eau Claire's Leader-Telegram covered the event and posted a review article on-line. The article says that Romero's only applause line was his observation that the Bush administration's days are numbered. I don't think the lack of applause lines were because the audience was asleep or in disagreement with Romero. In fact, the audience as a whole seemed intensely riveted to what he was saying and I didn't get any negative feedback at the ACLU table after the event.

It is also worth noting that in the comments section of the on-line article, the "ICEman's" disagreement with how the ACLU challenges the federal government's discrimination and detention of undocumented immigrants is not uncommon. What the ICEman doesn't understand is that the Constitution says that "people" have basic human rights. People in America have the right to peaceably assemble, practice their religion and freedom of speech. People have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. People have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The Constitution's words protect people, not just citizens. Immigration is a civil issue, not a criminal one no matter what Lou Dobbs or Bill O'Reily scream on their nightly news. If the ICEman understood more about how racial profiling impacts citizens or if he had a better understanding of the conditions in detention facilities like Hutto, maybe he would be more inclined to tape up his torn ACLU card.

Special thanks to Mildred and Brian Larson who hosted the pre-lecture reception for Romero. It was a great opportunity for folks to meet him and to hear more details about the current work of the ACLU to restore the rule of law.



ACLU of Wisconsin Madison Area Office Community Advocate Stacy Harbaugh and Eau Claire Chapter President Jeremy Gragert welcome both new and veteran card-carrying members at the ACLU table outside of the event.

** All photos taken by S. Harbaugh (except for the last one - thanks to the Eau Claire student who snapped this photo!)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

ACLU Online update - national news

February 1 , 2008

Congress Must Stand Up to Bush's Protect America Act

Tell Congress: Stand Up to Bush's Scare Tactics!

With the deadline for renewing the FISA-gutting “Protect America Act” looming, President Bush once again resorted to fear-mongering during Monday's State of the Union address when he claimed that the "flow of vital intelligence" would be disrupted without an extension. Congress, in turn, extended the Protect America Act through Friday, February 15.

Is this 15-day extension a victory for civil liberties? If Congress uses the extension wisely, it gives more time to make real changes that protect the rule of law and bring spying in line with the Constitution. It could also be a prelude to another Congressional cave-in, but not if we have anything to say about it.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Senate will be finalizing and voting on its spying bill. The ACLU, its hundreds of thousands of members and millions of Americans who believe in the rule of law and want their privacy protected are calling on the Senate to stand up to President Bush's fear-mongering.

The ACLU will remain unwavering in our demands. Tell the Senate to stand up to President Bush on telecom immunity and reject massive, untargeted surveillance without a warrant.

>> Take action: Tell your senators to oppose any bill with telecom immunity or warrantless spying on Americans.

>> Get the Facts: Debunking Bush's Fear-Mongering


Federal Judge Orders CIA and Defense Department to Produce Torture Documents

As a result of an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, a federal judge ordered the government to produce documents related to the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas to determine for himself if they should be made public.

“Given the evidence of widespread and systemic abuse of prisoners, it is entirely appropriate for the judge to view these documents for himself instead of taking the government's word for why they should be kept secret," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU.

The documents the judge will view include:
- Department of Defense documents relating to the deaths of prisoners; allegations of prisoner abuse; and interrogations that deviate from those permitted by the current Army Field Manual;

- A September 17, 2001 CIA Presidential Directive setting up secret CIA detention centers abroad;

- CIA documents gathered by the agency's Inspector General in the course of investigations into unlawful and improper conduct by CIA personnel; and

- Documents discussing the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program.

The judge is still considering the ACLU's motion to hold the CIA in contempt of court for destroying thousands of hours of videotape depicting the abusive interrogations of two detainees in its custody. The ACLU charges that by destroying the tapes, the CIA violated a September 2004 court order requiring the agency to produce or identify records that fell within the scope of its FOIA request.

>> Read more about the ACLU's FOIA request.


ACLU Asks Federal Appeals Court to Lift Ban on Renowned Scholar

The ACLU recently appealed a ruling to challenge the government’s exclusion of Tariq Ramadan, a renowned Swiss scholar, from the U.S. The ACLU believes that the government’s stated reason for barring the scholar is a pretext and that Ramadan, a leading European academic, remains banned from the country because of his political viewpoints.

"The Bush administration has barred Professor Ramadan from the U.S. for more than three years now -- first by alleging without basis that he endorsed terrorism, then saying that it would take years to consider his visa application, and now pointing to charitable donations that were entirely legal at the time they were made,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project.

The government originally revoked Ramadan’s visa in 2004 based on the so-called “ideological exclusion” provision of the Patriot Act, a provision that applies to individuals who have “endorsed or espoused” terrorism, because he made small donations to a Swiss charity that provides aid to the Palestinians. This revocation prevented Ramadan from taking up a tenured teaching post at the University of Notre Dame. The government later abandoned its claim when it could not produce any evidence that Ramadan had endorsed terrorism. On the contrary, Ramadan has been a consistent and vocal critic of terrorism and those who use it.

>> Read more about the Ramadan case, the history of ideological exclusion at: http://www.aclu.org/exclusion


Become a Guardian of Liberty Today—You Can Make the Difference

Every day all across the nation, the ACLU is called on to defend the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Guardians of Liberty are dedicated ACLU members who have made the commitment to support all this critical work with a monthly contribution.

These monthly gifts help the ACLU meet the costs of increased litigation, expanded grassroots mobilization, and widespread public education that are needed for a vigorous and successful defense of liberty.

As a Guardian of Liberty you can help make sure that no challenge to any of these rights goes unanswered. A modest monthly contribution of $25, $20 or even $15 provides the vital support that the ACLU needs.

As a Guardian you will receive special monthly updates on our work, and your membership in the ACLU will automatically renew.

Keep Freedom’s Flame Alive. Become a Guardian of Liberty Today!


ACLU Asks Federal Court to Block Use of Unfair Voting Technology in Ohio

The ACLU filed a motion this week asking federal Judge Kathleen O'Malley of the Northern District of Ohio to prevent the Ohio Secretary of State and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections from using balloting technology that does not give notice to voters of problems with their ballot. The motion follows a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on January 17 challenging the constitutionality of this technology.

"Every voter who goes to the polls must have the opportunity to verify his or her ballot is free from errors," said ACLU Voting Rights Project attorney Meredith Bell-Platts. "The evidence is overwhelming that when voters do not have access to technology that notifies them of ballot errors, many more ballots are left uncounted."

Recently, the Ohio Secretary of State Brunner and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections opted to implement ballots that do not provide notice of problems with votes. Cuyahoga County, which contains Columbus and surrounding areas, is the only county in Ohio whose current process does not allow notice to voters of problems with their ballot.

On January 22, the Ohio Association of Election Officials, a non-partisan organization representing Ohio's elections officials, voted unanimously against the sweeping changes Brunner has proposed, particularly emphasizing that counties should not adopt any voting technology that prevents voters from verifying their ballots are filled out correctly.

>> Read about the case.


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