On the Agenda: January 30 – February 3, 2012

This week, all eyes are on Florida for Tuesday’s GOP primary. As we pointed out last week, the right to vote in that state is threatened by a new law that makes it nearly impossible for organizations like the nonpartisan League of Women Voters to register voters. In this video, people who help register voters talk about how this new law will have crippling effects on voter participation in this year’s election.

Also, the first hearing under North Carolina's Racial Justice Act began today and is expected to run for a couple of weeks. The ACLU is part of a team of lawyers representing Marcus Robinson, a black defendant convicted in the death of a white person and who received a far harsher judgment than white defendants who committed comparable crimes from a jury that may have been tainted by a racially biased jury selection process.

Monday, January 30

Criminal Justice: Today, we will file a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Hill v. United States and Dorsey v. United States. Both cases concern the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), which reduced the sentencing disparity between mandatory minimums for crack and cocaine offenses from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. The Court will consider whether people whose offenses predate the enactment of the FSA, but who were sentenced afterwards, should be sentenced based on the old 100-to-1 ratio or the new, fairer 18-to-1 ratio. In our brief, we urge the Court to hold that Congress intended the FSA to apply in all sentencing proceedings that occur after its enactment.

Tuesday, January 31

National Security: On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a hearing called “Worldwide Threats.” Witnesses will include FBI director Robert Mueller III, Defense Intelligence Agency director Ronald Burgess and National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen.

Privacy: The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will hold a hearing titled "The Video Privacy Protection Act [PL 100-618]: Protecting Viewer Privacy in the 21st Century." The ACLU is submitting a statement.

Thursday, February 2

Women’s Rights: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a markup of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1925).

National Security: The Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law will hold a discussion of the book by the American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice titled The Law of Counterterrorism.

Friday, February 3

Voting Rights: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a hearing on enforcement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act during the current redistricting cycle. ACLU Voting Rights Project (VRP) director Laughlin McDonald will testify at the hearing. The VRP and the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office will be submitting testimony for the record.

National Security: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management will hold a hearing titled "Is DHS [Department of Homeland Security] Effectively Implementing a Strategy to Counter Emerging Threats?"

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