Blog of Rights

On the Agenda: December 12–16, 2011

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 1:02pm

Today we’re debuting a new feature on the blog that tells you what’s coming up in civil liberties this week. We’ll include legislative action our Washington Legislative Office (WLO) is keeping an eye on, activity in our litigation and other noteworthy events.

On the Hill, Congress is busy trying to jam through bad bills while they hope no one is looking. One in particular we’re watching very closely: the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, which could be reported out of conference this week and could be on the floor in both houses of Congress for final passage. Read our blog post about the NDAA and be sure to watch our new video, in which Sen. Lindsay Graham tells Americans: “Shut up! You don’t get a lawyer!”

Also this week, the House Homeland Security Committee is expected to introduce new cybersecurity legislation this week.

Monday, December 12
LGBT Rights: Today we’re filing a motion in our military separation pay case, Collins v. U.S. This is a class action lawsuit challenging the Defense Department’s discriminatory practice of giving military personnel discharged for “homosexuality” only half of the separation pay they are entitled to after an honorable discharge. Tellingly the government is too embarrassed to actually defend the constitutionality of the policy in open court, so they filed an Answer that refused to give a response to our allegations. We are asking the court for them to file a proper answer that actually requires them to admit or deny our allegations about the policy.

Medical Marijuana: The Criminal Law Reform Project will be in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona defending the right of thousands of sick Arizonans to access important medicine by arguing for the dismissal of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s lawsuit challenging her own state’s medical marijuana law. We represent the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association (AzMMA).

Tuesday, December 13
Voting Rights: Attorney General Holder will deliver a speech on voting rights titled “Protecting our Democracy, Protecting the Right to Vote” at the LBJ Presidential Library & Museum in Austin, Texas. WLO Director Laura W. Murphy and Senior Legislative Counsel Deborah J. Vagins will attend. Laura will blog her thoughts on the speech Wednesday.

Criminal Code Overhaul: Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee (Chairman Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.) of House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Criminal Code Modernization and Simplification Act of 2011 (H.R. 1823).

Wednesday, December 14
FBI Oversight: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the FBI. FBI Director Robert Mueller is expected to testify.

Foreign Law/Religious Law Bans: The House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution will hold a hearing titled “Judicial Reliance on Foreign Law.”

Refusals/Trafficking: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing entitled, “HHS and the Catholic Church: Examining the Politicization of Grants (minority day of hearing)” at 1:30 pm.

Thursday, December 15
First Amendment: A markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261), a bill intended to protect copyrighted material online, is tentatively scheduled for today. While the ACLU believes it’s important to protect copyrighted material online, the narrowly tailored language of SOPA is severely flawed and will lead to the takedown of lawful content. Urge your members of Congress to oppose SOPA.

Also, tonight, GOP presidential candidates will debate in Sioux City, Iowa.

We hope you find “On the Agenda” helpful, and if you have any comments/suggestions, let us know at ideas@aclu.org.

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