Blog of Rights

2009 Supreme Court Term Preview

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 9:01am

This morning in Washington, D.C., we are hosting our annual Supreme Court breakfast, in which attorneys discuss cases that the ACLU will or may be arguing in the upcoming term. This year's breakfast will have three speakers: ACLU Legal Director Steve Shapiro; Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project; and Peter Eliasberg, Managing Attorney at the ACLU of Southern California.

Steve kicks off the breakfast with an overview of the upcoming term and the civil liberties issues at stake.

Jameel discusses Department of Defense v. ACLU, our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit over photographs depicting the abuse of prisoners at detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. The question before the court is whether the government can rely on an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act to withhold the photographs on the basis of a general assertion that their release could provoke a violent response. The government has asked the Supreme Court to review an appellate court decision that found in our favor, requiring the Defense Department to release these photographs. We should hear whether the Supreme Court will hear the case by September 29.

Finally, Peter discusses Salazar v. Buono, a case that will address whether the government has adequately remedied the Establishment Clause violation created by the presence of a Latin cross in the Mojave Desert National Preserve by transferring one acre of land surrounding the cross to the Veterans of Foreign Wars while also designating the cross as a national memorial. The lower courts agreed with the ACLU that the government's actions compounded the Establishment Clause problem rather than resolving it. Peter will argue the case before the court on October 7. Learn more about this case by reading Peter's statement.

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