Blog of Rights

On the Agenda: Week of April 16 – 20, 2012

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 11:29am

Congress is back in session, so we've got a busy week ahead.

Today, the ACLU, along with several other groups, is launching a weeklong campaign called "Stop Cyber Spying Week" to draw attention to the massive civil liberties problems in H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, better known as CISPA. CISPA is scheduled to be voted on by the House of Representatives next week. Tomorrow ACLU Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson will speak at a House Hill Briefing called "The False Choice: Cybersecurity vs. Civil Liberties."

Tomorrow, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will hold a hearing on racial profiling in America. The hearing will explore how profiling harms law enforcement and will focus on the many different faces of racial profiling, including historic racism against African-Americans in community and drug enforcement, the post-9/11 intelligence gathering and racial mapping particularly of Arab Muslims and South Asians and the profiling of Latinos, Asians and other people of color in the context of immigration and border enforcement. ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero will testify at the hearing. We will also hold a blog series this week that will feature posts written by ACLU clients and staff who have been victims of racial profiling.

We'll be live-tweeting both the racial profiling and cybersecurity events Tuesday; follow us @ACLULive for updates.

Tomorrow is also Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how far women, on average, have to work into 2012 to be paid the same as men were paid in 2011. Senior Legislative Counsel Deborah J. Vagins will participate in a Congressional briefing on Equal Pay Day.

Next week's marquee event is on Wednesday, April 25, when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Arizona v. U.S., the challenge to Arizona's racial profiling law, S.B. 1070. We'll be participating in a number of events in the days leading up to the argument. On Monday, April 23, the ACLU's Andre Segura will participate in a press conference on Capitol Hill and the Washington Legislative Office's Director Laura Murphy will moderate a congressional briefing on S.B. 1070. And on Tuesday, April 24, a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee will hold a hearing on S.B. 1070 called "Examining the Constitutionality and Prudence of State and Local Governments Enforcing Immigration Law."

Also next Wednesday, Deborah will be back on the Hill to participate in a congressional briefing on the Democracy Restoration Act hosted by Sen. Ben Cardin. She will be speaking alongside other members of the civil rights, faith, and law enforcement community working for passage of the DRA.

Monday, April 16

Death Penalty: On Monday we will kick off a blog series to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in McCleskey v. Kemp, in which the Court ruled that a defendant cannot rely upon statistical evidence of racial bias to prove his death sentence unconstitutional, no matter how strong that evidence may be. McCleskey has been roundly condemned as a low point in the quest for equality — the Dred Scott of its time. Watch here for daily posts.

Detention: The International Committee of the Red Cross will host a roundtable discussion with ICRC Geneva Legal Advisor on Detention Issues, Jelena Pejic, an expert on status, treatment, and judicial guarantees for persons deprived of their freedom.

Prisoners' Rights: On Monday, the ACLU National Prison Project's Margaret Winter will testify before the L.A. County Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence. In January, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the longstanding, widespread pattern of violence by deputies against inmates in the county jails.

Tuesday, April 17

Cybersecurity: Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson will speak on a panel at a House Hill Briefing on cybersecurity called "The False Choice: Cybersecurity vs. Civil Liberties," which is being cohosted by the ACLU, the Constitution Project, and the Center for Democracy & Technology.

Medical Marijuana: On Tuesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will hear arguments in our case on behalf of Joseph Casias, a cancer patient in Michigan who was fired from his job at Wal-Mart for using medical marijuana in compliance with state law.

Racial Profiling: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, will hold a hearing titled, "Ending Racial Profiling in America." ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero will testify at the hearing and will submit written testimony as well. Following the hearing, the ACLU and its coalition partners will host a press conference to spotlight the need to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. The press event will feature Sens. Dick Durbin and Ben Cardin as well as ACLU clients from Michigan and Minnesota and the Deputy Commander of the Hinds County Sheriff's Department who has worked closely with the ACLU of Mississippi on anti-racial profiling training.

Women's Rights: Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how far women, on average, have to work into 2012 to be paid the same as men were paid in 2011. Senior Legislative Counsel Deborah J. Vagins will participate in a Congressional briefing on Equal Pay Day and will be discussing a range of pay equity issues, including Obama administration programs that support enforcement efforts, current and upcoming pay equity legislation and the issue of pay secrecy. The briefing is sponsored by the Fair Pay Coalition, and other speakers will include representatives from the American Association of University Women, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, Mom's Rising, the National Organization for Women, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and the National Women's Law Center. The ACLU is also working in conjunction with the administration and the Fair Pay Coalition to roll out material and promote issues of fair pay, including gaining congressional support for the Paycheck Fairness Act and urging the president to sign an executive order banning retaliation for wage disclosure in federal contracting.

Criminal Law Reform: The Supreme Court will hear a pair of cases, Hill v. United States and Dorsey v. United States, to address whether the Fair Sentencing Act's new sentencing guidelines for crack offenses apply to those who committed crimes before the FSA became law but were sentenced after its passage.

Cybercrime: The House Judiciary Committee will hold a markup of a bill amending the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Wednesday, April 18

Voting Rights: The Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled "Voting Wrongs: Oversight of the Justice Department's Voting Rights Enforcement." The ACLU will monitor.

Employment Discrimination: The Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing titled "Reviewing the Impact of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' Regulatory and Enforcement Actions." The ACLU recently submitted comments on proposed OFCCP regulations, and will monitor the hearing.

Racial Profiling: The ACLU, Leadership Conference, NAACP and Rights Working Group will host a National End Racial Profiling Advocacy Day in which advocates, organizers, and community members from 13 different states will convene in D.C. to urge their members of Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act.

Privacy: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on nominations to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

E-Verify: The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement is holding a hearing titled "Document Fraud in Employment Authorization: How an E-Verify Requirement Can Help."

Cybersecurity: The House Oversight and Government reform will mark up a rewrite of the Federal Information Security Management Act.

PRECISE Act: The House Homeland Security Committee will mark up H.R. 3674, the Promoting and Enhancing Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Effectiveness Act of 2011. The bill was marked up by the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies on February 1, and was forwarded to the full committee by a voice vote.

Thursday, April 19

Racial Profiling: Policy Counsel Mike German will appear at a briefing sponsored by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus to discuss racial profiling and spying of the Muslim community.

Criminal Justice: The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hold a hearing on the prosecution of former Sen. Ted Stevens and potentially address the need for reform of the Brady Rule.

Friday, April 20

On Friday, we expect a decision in the first-ever case under North Carolina's Racial Justice Act, which allows capital defendants to present evidence to show that racial bias was a factor in the imposition of the death penalty. The ACLU and co-counsel are challenging the death sentence of Marcus Robinson.

UPDATE: The April 19 racial profiling briefing paragraph has been amended to add the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus as sponsors of the event.

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