Blog of Rights

Dena
Sher

Dena is legislative counsel at the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. Sher joined the ACLU in 2011, after four years as the the state legislative counsel with Americans United for Separation of Church and State. She worked with legislators, activists, and coalition partners on legislation, policy, and ballot initiatives that affected religious liberties, including school vouchers, healthcare refusals and religion in the workplace. She was also an Equal Justice Works fellow at Americans United. Her Equal Justice Works project investigated how programs funded under President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative were implemented. Sher also worked on many of the cases litigated by AU during her fellowship.

Sher is a graduate of George Washington University Law School and Georgetown University.

 

Who’s Abusing Their Power? House Oversight Committee’s Show-Trial Takes HHS to Task for Helping Trafficking Victims

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Sarah Lipton-Lubet, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 6:28pm
In the upside-down, through-the looking-glass world we often find ourselves in, in our nation’s capital, today the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing “investigating” why Catholic organizations only received $650 million in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services over the last three years, instead of $650 million and change. Never mind that under this administration, as Rep. Gerry Connolly noted, Catholic groups have gotten $100 million more than under Bush. What brought on this investigation? A several million dollar grant to provide services for human trafficking victims that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops bid on, but did not receive. The bishops and their political allies are crying discrimination. As Rep. John Tierney noted this morning, I’m sure a lot of people would like to be discriminated against like that.

Special Exceptions for Religious Organizations Threaten Liberty

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:35am

Last week, at a congressional hearing on “The State of Religious Liberty in the United States,” Rep. Jim Jordan asked a witness what the biggest threat to religious liberty is today. The response from Colby May, from the American Center…

Now Hiring (Some Exclusions May Apply)

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:29am

Right now, the White House is wholly focused on getting people back to work. That should be great news for the American people. Why is it then that the administration has a damaging policy that actually limits certain jobs to only certain people?…

Since When Is the First Amendment an Afterthought?

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:03pm
"If your focus is first and foremost serving people in need, then there's not a tremendous amount of time left to debate the finer points of the church-state relationship."

The Denver Post reported that Joshua DuBois, the head of the…

Obama Administration Can't Make the Case for Religious Discrimination

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Elayne Weiss, Washington Legislative Office at 4:38pm

What a disappointing, and frankly lame, response. Last month, the ACLU, along with more than 50 organizations, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to end taxpayer-funded hiring discrimination based on religion in government contracts. President…

A Hearing on a Hearing: Rep. Peter King Prioritizes Navel Gazing

A Hearing on a Hearing: Rep. Peter King Prioritizes Navel Gazing

By Devon Chaffee, Legislative Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:12pm

Yesterday Peter King (R-NY), Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, brought congressional navel gazing to a new level by holding a hearing on his past hearings that have singled out and perpetuated dangerous stereotypes about the American…

President Obama: Restore Civil Rights Protections!

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:03pm

Seventy years ago this week, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered all federal agencies to "include in all defense contracts hereafter negotiated by them a provision obligating the contractor not to discriminate against any worker because…

ENDA Is Good, Could Be Even Better

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:04pm

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held an important hearing on workplace discrimination experienced by those who are or perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). The hearing addressed…

A Look at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

A Look at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:31pm

In 1998, Congress created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to draw attention to violations of religious freedom in other countries. The commissioners vote annually to list countries that are of particular concern or place…

Wanted: Women on Birth Control, Not Men on Ham Sandwiches

Wanted: Women on Birth Control, Not Men on Ham Sandwiches

By Sarah Lipton-Lubet, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 6:17pm

Yesterday's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the new HHS rule that requires insurance plans to include birth control with no co-pay (except for those held by churches or religiously affiliated nonprofits like universities)…

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