Friday, November 19, 2010

Help Us Work To Protect Freedom - Join the ACLU Today

If you read the Cap City Liberty blog, you probably care a lot about civil liberties and the work of the ACLU of Wisconsin. Here is why we want you to become a member today.

After the November election, it is clear there is a lot of work to do. Fortunately, protecting civil liberties doesn’t depend solely on elections – civil liberties depend in large part on the participation of concerned Americans like you. That’s why your membership in the American Civil Liberties Union is so important. Your support for civil liberties makes you and the ACLU more powerful when you stand together with people who share your love of liberty and justice for all.

In Washington, D.C. there is still work to be done to restore the rights lost during the Bush Administration’s “war on terror.” Unwarranted surveillance of Americans, abuse of the material witness statutes to unlawfully detain individuals who are never criminally charged, and targeted killings of American citizens far from any battlefield continue to give America a black eye around the world. On these matters and more, the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office counts on members who are constituents of Wisconsin’s delegation to speak up. This November, Wisconsin lost a voice on the side of civil liberties in these battles in the Senate.

ACLU members in Wisconsin like you can help us lessen that blow.

You are right if you believe we will have more work to do in Madison come January. We know that proponents of anti-civil liberties measures as well as and those who would use government to impose their morality on everyone will act quickly and forcefully.

New leadership will shepherd an agenda:

• To weaken or repeal measures adopted in the last legislature, including a new law providing limited protections and benefits for same sex couples; a new law requiring that health insurance cover FDA approved contraceptives; and a new law requiring all sex education offered in public schools to be comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate.

• To weaken religious liberty further by providing more taxpayer dollars to religious schools, under the failed voucher scheme, by increasing the amount paid to religious schools per pupil and lifting the enrollment cap in Milwaukee.

• To distract us from solving the real problems surrounding our broken immigration system, by requiring Wisconsin law enforcement officers to ask for the immigration papers of anyone they suspect may be in this country illegally. Such a law would guarantee racial profiling of American citizens, who would be ordered to “show us your papers.”

• To move to suppress the voting rights of the poor, students, and the elderly by requiring a government-issued photo ID, and eliminating registration at the polls on Election Day. Despite oft-repeated “voter fraud” claims, the number of prosecutions for voter fraud is negligible. And plus, there are good reasons to restore the right to vote to felons who have served their time.

• The Governor-elect even opposes abortion in cases of incest and rape and supports the death penalty.

What can you and the ACLU do in the face of these unprecedented assaults on civil liberties? We will use strategies and tools that you will recognize: our membership, our loud voices, and our lawyers.

ACLU members and allies can speak out in Madison to demand anti-civil liberties measures are debated – at least in the court of public opinion. Members like you can advocate on state issues that will be fought over at the local level, such as your school board’s position on abstinence-only sex education or anti-gay bullying. And, you can speak out on important national issues, such as keeping the internet free from censorship and accessible to all as a common carrier, so-called net neutrality.

Please be sure to sign up for our email newsletter and alerts on our homepage, so that our messages will ring out loud and clear.

Our staff and volunteer lawyers will carefully consider bringing legal action in administrative proceedings and state or federal courts. Their skill, creativity, and persistence will give us leverage. There may even be opportunities to have an affirmative civil liberties agenda challenging discrimination in housing and education. Racial disparities in our criminal justice system and public school systems across the state are not only unacceptable in a civilized society, they are illegal. And, we won’t let faith-based groups use taxpayer dollars to proselytize or discriminate, or let government censor scientific research at our universities.

With the support of members like you, we have established strong programs for young people over the last ten years. These young people are made aware of civil liberties through our programs like our Youth Social Justice Forum and many have developed into real leaders for civil liberties and civil rights on their campuses and in their communities. They give us confidence and hope that over the long haul civil liberties will continue to protect more Americans. You can be sure they’ll speak up loudly now and in the years to come.

You’re invited to join us now because “freedom can’t protect itself.” Please sign up today.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,
Chris Ahmuty

P.S. You don’t have to accept violations of civil liberties in silence. The ACLU will help you and your fellow civil libertarians stand up for what’s right.