Tag Archives: ACLU

New Arkansas abortion laws blocked by federal judge

judge kristine baker

The judge who blocked the laws: Kristine Baker

From Fox News:  A federal judge has blocked the state of Arkansas from enforcing four new abortion restrictions. U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker (appointed by Obama) issued a preliminary injunction late Friday against the new abortion restrictions, three of which were set to take effect Tuesday.

The laws include a ban on a common procedure known as dilation and evacuation. Abortion-rights supporters contend it’s the safest and most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions. Abortion activists also argued that doing away with the procedure would make it impossible for women to get an abortion in their second trimester.

Pro-life groups criticized the procedure, which is surgical, as “barbaric.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Reproductive Rights sued Arkansas over the restrictions, which lawmakers approved earlier this year. The two groups sued on behalf of Dr. Frederick Hopkins, a Little Rock abortion provider. The groups say the laws would make it nearly impossible for many women in the state to get an abortion. 

“(The law) would essentially end access to second-trimester abortions in Arkansas,” Brigitte Amiri, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told NBC News.

Similar bans are in effect in Mississippi and West Virginia and have been blocked by court rulings in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. A ban approved in Texas will take effect in September and is also being challenged in court. The groups said the ban would have a devastating impact, while the state argued that alternative procedures are available.

“The threatened harm to Dr. Hopkins and the fraction of women for whom the Mandate is relevant clearly outweighs whatever damage or harm a proposed injunction may cause the State of Arkansas,” Baker wrote in her ruling.

Baker’s ruling also halted a law that would have imposed new restrictions on the disposal of fetal remains from abortions. The plaintiffs argued that it could also block access by requiring notification of a third party, such as the woman’s sexual partner or her parents, to determine what happens to the fetal remains. The state has said the law does not require permission or notice from those third parties before an abortion and includes several provisions that ensure notice or consent is not required to dispose of the fetal remains.

Baker said the law would dissuade doctors from performing abortions and create significant delays for women seeking the procedure.

Baker also blocked part of a law set to take effect in January that would ban abortions based solely on the fetus’ sex. The groups are challenging the law’s requirement that a doctor performing the abortion first request records related to the entire pregnancy history of the woman. The plaintiffs say the requirement would violate a patient’s privacy and indefinitely delay a woman’s access to abortion.

The judge also blocked a law that would expand a requirement that physicians performing abortions for patients under 14 take certain steps to preserve embryonic or fetal tissue and notify police where the minor resides. The new measure, which was also set to take effect Tuesday, would have raised the age requirement to less than 17 years of age.

The block came hours after a federal court panel cleared the way for Arkansas to enforce a law that will limit how the abortion pill can be administered. Baker blocked the 2015 law that required doctors who provide such pills to maintain a contract with another physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital and who agrees to handle any complications.

DCG

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Effort to bar child marriage in California runs into opposition

child bride

If you’re going to allow minors to “choose” their sex and mess with their biology because they “deserve” it, then they are certainly entitled to make other adult decisions.

From SF Chronicle: A Bay Area legislator was shocked when he learned from a young constituent that while Californians cannot legally consent to sex until they are 18, they can — with the permission of a parent and a judge’s order — get married at any age, even if their spouse is many years older.

“I thought, that can’t be true in California,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat from San Mateo. “We found that it is true in California and true in many states throughout the country.”

But Hill’s resulting proposal to bar juveniles from getting hitched has been watered down after it prompted strong objections from civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

As the emotional fight unfolds in Sacramento, there’s no agreement even about a basic piece of information — how many minors get married each year in California. People who want to limit such marriages say the total is in the thousands, while those who oppose the bill say that’s vastly inflated.

The state doesn’t keep such numbers, and even efforts to change that are running into resistance.

Within the past year, elected officials in several states have pushed to restrict juvenile marriage, with a law passed last month limiting matrimony by minors in New York to 16- and 17-year-olds who have become legal adults emancipated from their parents, and one in Texas holding the line at age 17 — with a judge’s permission.

Hill wanted California to set a strict line at age 18, but the effort encountered swift opposition from fellow legislators, as well as groups that include the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

While SB273 is still alive and moving through legislative committees, amendments have removed any age restriction. The measure in its current form increases family court oversight to ensure that a minor’s marriage isn’t coerced, including a requirement that judges interview individuals privately.

It’s a compromise, Hill said, but still a positive step. “It’s our responsibility to protect those kids,” he said.

Among those disappointed by the result of the compromise is Sara Tasneem of El Sobrante, who said the amended bill won’t help children and will only make elected officials feel like they did something.

Tasneem was 15 when her father, who belonged to a cult in Southern California, introduced her to a man 13 years her senior. She was forced to marry the 28-year-old in a religious ceremony that evening. Six months later, at 16, she was pregnant and legally married in a civil ceremony in Reno.

“A person who marries a 15-year-old, there’s obviously something wrong,” said Tasneem, now 36. “Putting that label of husband and wife makes something disgusting and not OK seem normal and OK.”

As a teenager, Tasneem dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Instead, she became a mother, with two children by age 19. She would ultimately defy her husband and return to school, and later file for divorce.

“Once you leave your childhood, there’s no going back to it,” said Tasneem, now a business student at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. “All those opportunities and freedom of being a child are gone.”

Activists aiming to stop such marriages say they occur across demographic groups, spurred by religious reasons, cultural norms, pregnancy, financial incentives or, in some cases, to protect someone from statutory-rape accusations because marriage circumvents the age-of-consent requirement.

Nationally, about 5 of every 1,000 children ages 15 to 17 were married as of 2014, according to U.S. census data analyzed by the Pew Research Center — figures that don’t specify where the marriages occurred. Activists for age restrictions estimate that California sees about 3,000 marriages per year that include a minor.

The ACLU and other opponents say that estimate is inflated, noting that just 44 petitions for juvenile marriage were filed in Los Angeles County — which has a population just above 10 million — over the past five years.

The focus of efforts should be on abusive and coerced relationships, regardless of marital status, said Phyllida Burlingame of the ACLU’s Northern California chapter.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Portland, Oregon, mayor calls for free-speech and anti-sharia rallies to be canceled

ted wheeler

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler

Similar talk with guns after a whacko commits a crime: When one person does something stupid, demorats want to punish a whole group who aren’t responsible for that action and who don’t agree with them.

From MSN: The mayor of Portland, Ore., is calling on federal authorities to cancel a pair of upcoming rallies organized by conservative groups, saying the city was still ‘‘in shock’’ after two men were fatally stabbed on a commuter train Friday while fending off a man shouting anti-Muslim slurs.

Mayor Ted Wheeler (demorat) asked the federal government to revoke a permit authorizing a June 4 ‘‘Trump Free Speech Rally’’ in Portland’s downtown. He also called on the government to block a ‘‘March Against Sharia’’ that is scheduled for June 10 but has not received permits.

‘‘Our city is in mourning, our community’s anger is real, and the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation,’’ Wheeler wrote in a Facebook post Monday.

He added that he had asked the organizers of the rallies, which he referred to as ‘‘alt-right demonstrations,’’ to cancel their events. ‘‘I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland,’’ Wheeler wrote. ‘‘There is never a place for bigotry or hatred in our community, and especially not now.’’

The federal government controls permitting for the plaza where both rallies are set to take place. The city of Portland will not issue any of its own permits allowing organizers to hold the events elsewhere, Wheeler said.

Portland has spent several days reeling from the deaths of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Ricky John Best, 53, who were stabbed and killed as they tried to protect two young women from a man who boarded a light-rail train and began yelling hateful comments about Muslims at them. A third man who intervened was injured.

The suspect, 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian, has a history of making bigoted comments online and was photographed giving a Nazi salute at a recent protest organized by the group behind the ‘‘Trump Free Speech Rally.’’ Local publications as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center have described him as a ‘‘known white supremacist.’’ He is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder and other charges.

The attack came at a time of escalating tensions in Portland, a city with a long track record of activism and protests. Since President Donald Trump’s election in November, the city has been beset by violence at political rallies from groups on the left and the right. Clashes between black-clad ‘‘antifa,’’ or anti-fascist, activists and right-wing protesters associated with white nationalist movements have become increasingly common at otherwise peaceful demonstrations.

The organizer of the ‘‘Trump Free Speech Rally,’’ Joey Gibson, sought to distance himself and his group, Patriot Prayer, from Christian, especially as reports surfaced that he appeared at the group’s other events. In a video posted to Facebook on Sunday, Gibson condemned Christian and said antifa protesters were trying to incite chaos at the upcoming rally by exploiting the attacks on the train.

‘‘There’s going to be more intensity, there’s going to be more threats,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘They’re using the deaths of these two people and Jeremy Christian – they’re using it to get Portland all rowdy about our June 4th rally and it’s absolutely disgusting.’’

Gibson urged his supporters to remain calm. ‘‘You throw one punch, you’re going to jail,’’ he said.

A Facebook page for the event says the rally will feature live music and ‘‘speakers exercising their free speech.’’

The ‘‘March Against Sharia,’’ which Gibson is also involved in, says Islamic law ‘‘is incompatible with our Constitution and American values.’’ The event page calls on supporters who ‘‘stand for human rights.’’

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon criticized the mayor’s attempts to shut down both rallies, saying the government can’t revoke or deny a permit based on the demonstrators’ views. ‘‘It may be tempting to shut down speech we disagree with,’’ the ACLU tweeted, ‘‘but once we allow the government to decide what we can say, see, or hear, or who we can gather with, history shows us that the most marginalized will be disproportionately censored and punished for unpopular speech.’’

‘‘If we allow the government to shut down speech for some, we all will pay the price down the line,’’ the organization added.

But Tom Hastings, a longtime activist and professor in the Portland State University conflict resolution program, said the mayor was on solid footing. The looming threat of violence at the rally justified a shutdown while the city worked out a long-term solution. ‘‘I know these lines are perceived as pretty fuzzy when we’re dealing with constitutional First Amendment rights,’’ Hastings told The Washington Post. ‘‘But there’s no long fuse anymore. Everybody’s fuse seems to be quite short.’’

Portland has struggled to stop violence from flaring up at public gatherings in recent months. In November, shortly after the presidential election, peaceful anti-Trump demonstrations were disrupted when anarchists smashed windows, ripped out electrical power boxes and spray-painted buildings downtown.

In April, Portland’s typically family-friendly rose parade was canceled after antifa activists threatened to shut down roads if a Republican group wasn’t barred from the event. And earlier this month, dozens of ‘‘black bloc’’ anarchists destroyed property at May Day protests.

Hastings warned that the mayor’s decision could backfire if he doesn’t reach out to the leaders of the groups whose rallies he’s trying to block. The city, Hastings said, should arrange one-on-one conversations with organizers on all sides, otherwise the trend of violence could only get worse.

‘‘I think it’s a real fine line,’’ he said. ‘‘The cancellation of this can’t be regarded as the end of anything. If you kick the can down the road and don’t do anything it will (be) exacerbated. People are quashed for a minute, but they almost nurse this notion of vengeance and they come out much worse than before.’’

DCG

Sacramento neighborhood cops may be allowed to arrest undocumented immigrants

illegalHeadline should read “arrest illegal aliens.” Other than that, this works for me.

From Sacramento Bee: If you’re an undocumented immigrant illegal alien in the city of Sacramento, the local police are under orders not to inquire about your citizenship. The same goes in the unincorporated areas of Sacramento County patrolled by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department.

Venture outside the region’s main urban centers, however, and police may be operating under different guidelines.

At least six law enforcement agencies in the Sacramento area operate under written policies allowing their officers to detain people suspected of entering the United States illegally, according to policy manuals obtained by The Bee.

For people arrested for certain drug offenses who “may not be a citizen of the United States,” the policies read, officers “shall notify” federal immigration agents if the suspect is not booked into county jail. Officers in the six jurisdictions, which include Folsom and unincorporated Yuba and Yolo counties, can also inform federal immigration agents of the immigration and citizenship status of anyone they encounter.

Some local departments with tough immigration policies on their books are now revising their guidelines as the Trump administration ramps up enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws and immigrant communities grow increasingly wary of law enforcement. Others insist they do not engage in any level of immigration enforcement, despite what their written policies permit.

The policy manuals in all six jurisdictions were written by Lexipol, an Irvine-based private firm that comes up with policies for most of California’s small and mid-size law enforcement agencies. In addition to immigration, Lexipol policies cover a wide range of topics, including departments’ use of force guidelines and advice on how officers should conduct themselves when off-duty.

Immigration enforcement is permitted by the Yolo and Yuba county sheriff’s departments, and the police departments in Galt, Citrus Heights, Folsom and Lincoln. Several local law enforcement agencies did not respond to Bee requests to see their policies. By contrast, Sacramento has repeatedly declared itself a so-called sanctuary city that does not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, a stance that has put the city at odds with the Trump administration.

Lexipol program director Kevin Piper said the policies are based on federal and state laws, as well as “best practices nationwide that have proven successful for law enforcement.” The final wording of an agency’s immigration policy is “completely a local jurisdiction decision,” he said. “We give them a policy that is adaptable whether they are a sanctuary city or completely the opposite,” he said. “We constantly tell our clients that one of the reasons they may want to customize is that their community may want something different.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has begun tracking which California law enforcement agencies use Lexipol immigration policies. Julia Harumi Mass, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, said policies that allow even limited cooperation between local agencies and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency “can still send the wrong message to the local community.”

“The Sacramento Police Department and other California police departments understand the harm that comes when local police and sheriffs engage in immigration enforcement,” she said.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Hawaii LGBT couples seek equal access to fertility treatment

inequitiesFrom ABC News: Sean Smith and his husband paid more than $20,000 for a fertility procedure when they decided to have a child using a surrogate mother. They did not know at the time that if they were a heterosexual couple, they might have saved that money.

Now, Smith and other members of Hawaii’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are lobbying for equal access to the financial help married, heterosexual couples enjoy under state law.

They are pushing legislation that would require insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization for more couples, including making Hawaii the first state to require the coverage for surrogates, which would help male same-sex couples who must use a surrogate.

“Now that marriage equality is the law of the land and is accepted, now let’s turn to family building, and let’s figure out how we fix all these inequities that exist,” said Barbara Collura, president and CEO of Resolve, a national organization that advocates for access to fertility treatments.

Hawaii is one of eight states that require insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization, a costly procedure where a doctor retrieves eggs from a woman, combines them with sperm from a man and then implants an embryo into a woman’s uterus.

But Hawaii’s mandate applies only to married heterosexual couples because it covers the medical intervention only if a woman uses sperm from her spouse, leaving the LGBT community and single women behind.

“At the end of the visit, I would be going into the office and pulling out my credit card, and other people are probably just walking out and insurance is picking up the tab,” Smith said. “We had to borrow money, refinance a second mortgage, and I’m sure there are people who don’t even explore the option because the expenses are too great.”

The measure pending in the Hawaii Legislature removes requirements that the egg and sperm come from a married couple and includes surrogates among the people to be covered. No other state has included surrogates in their laws, Collura said.

“It is definitely groundbreaking,” Collura said. “And it’s an often-overlooked way that people choose to build their family, and it should not be left out. It’s great to see that Hawaii is taking the lead.”

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii opposed the measure, saying the medical provider and insurer does not perform in vitro fertilization with donor eggs or surrogates because of complex legal issues and medical risks. The company asked lawmakers to remove egg donors and surrogates from the bill, saying requiring coverage of additional procedures would raise costs for the company and its customers.

A similar measure in Hawaii failed in previous legislative sessions. But aside from Kaiser, the bill has seen little opposition this year.

A broad coalition including the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and the Democratic Party of Hawaii are working with LGBT groups to push for change. The proposal passed the state Senate and is up for a vote in the House this week.

Maryland had a law that also excluded same-sex couples until about a year ago, when the Legislature changed the provision so it no longer required using a husband’s sperm. That helped lesbian couples, but gay men were still left out because the law didn’t cover surrogates, Collura said.

Most state mandates limit insurance reimbursement to a certain number of in vitro fertilization trials or allow coverage only after years of infertility. Some states also allow religious or small employers to get out of the requirement.

“We need to change these laws,” Collura said. “We need to update them and make them so that they are no longer discriminatory.”

DCG

Tina Fey slams college-educated white women who voted for Trump

tina fey

College-educated white woman who can create drama…

Tina Fey is a college-educated white woman with a BA in drama.

From USA Today: Tina Fey has a message for the college-educated white women who helped elect Donald Trump: “You can’t look away.”

The comedian spoke during an American Civil Liberties Union fundraiser that also featured Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks and Tituss Burgess on Friday, and chatted about politics and the president from the stage. But later, she took a more serious tone, calling out a specific group of women who voted for the president.

She opened her segment of the live stream, talking about what she and Trump have in common: “One, neither of us has any business wearing khakis with the shirt tucked in. And two, we’re both very upset with the amount of fake news out in the world right now.”

Then, she dug into Trump for announcing what’s “surely an April Fools’ joke: “that next month will be national sexual assault awareness and prevention month. … So now we know what he gave up for Lent ― that’s good.”

And she made quips about the gender gap, saying how “women still only make one Ghostbusters movie to every two made by men” and “men average Oceans 11 for every Oceans 8 that goes to women.” Maybe, with your donation, she said, the ACLU can help break the “ultimate glass ceiling”: produce an “all-lady ‘Woman-tourage’ … or ‘Entour-vag,'” as she called it.

But Fey wasn’t building toward a punchline when she sat down to chat with ACLU lawyers about reproductive rights.

“The thing that I keep, I keep focusing on is the idea that we sort of need to hold the edges, that it’s sort of like a lot of this election was turned by kinda white college-educated women who would now maybe like to forget about this election and go back to watching HGTV.” She said during the group discussion, “I would want to urge them to like, ‘You can’t look away, because it doesn’t affect you this minute, but it’s going to affect you eventually’.”

The entire Facebook Live stream is available here.

DCG

Trump Derangement Syndrome will continue: ACLU launches nationwide training on protest and resistance

aclu

Gee…I wonder who is financing this?

From ABC News: The American Civil Liberties Union staged a nationwide training event Saturday to make sure people are aware of their rights as protesters and urge organized, public resistance by those opposed to policies of President Donald Trump.

Organizers said the event at a sports arena on the University of Miami campus was livestreamed to locations in all 50 states. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said 200,000 people had signed up to attend one of an estimated 2,000 local events.

The event, staged in town hall style, was aimed at capitalizing on numerous demonstrations since Trump’s election in November and to make sure people know their rights to protest, Romero said. He said priority issues are immigration, the First Amendment free speech and religious freedom rights, civil and reproductive rights and rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people.

“We will bring all the lawsuits necessary to defend these rights,” Romero said. “We’ll do the work in the courts. You do the work in the streets. People are motivated. They want to be engaged.”

The ACLU also launched a new grassroots online organizing platform called PeoplePower.org. It’s billed as a way for people considering a local protest or rally to connect and coordinate with others around the country with similar intentions, and to provide details of ACLU initiatives.

Another plan is creation of “freedom cities” around the country that would encourage local officials to pass laws resisting Trump policies such as stepped-up deportations of people living in the country illegally, said Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director.

Other parts of Saturday’s event detailed the rules for demonstrations on streets, sidewalks and in public parks, and the rights people have when arrested such as the right to remain silent. ACLU attorney Lee Rowland said large demonstrations generally require a local permit, but government can’t typically shut down protesters in public places without good reason. “The government can’t censor you just because it disagrees with your opinion,” Rowland said.

Also speaking at the event was Padma Lakshmi, an Indian-born cookbook author, actress, model and television host. She said she emigrated to the U.S. at age four and said the nation appears to be retreating from its welcoming ways. “Lately I’ve started to feel like an outsider,” she said. “What makes America great is our culture of inclusion. We must not tolerate the intolerance.

DCG