Blog of Rights

This Week in Civil Liberties (1/13/2012)

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 6:20pm

Are inmates on death row more violent or just unlucky?

Which Constitutional amendment does an Oklahoma law that discriminates against Muslims violate?

How many years has it been since the opening of Guantanamo Bay?

What search tool didn’t make privacy a default for its new social search?

Which Senator recently released a short video in support of LGBT youth and the Student Non-Discrimination Act?

Lady Justice Rolls the Dice: the Death Penalty is "Random Horror"
A new study by Stanford law professor John Donohue analyzed all murder cases in Connecticut over a 34-year period and found that there is no rational distinction between inmates on death row and the equally violent offenders who were not sentenced to death. As Lincoln Caplan at the New York Times editorialized this weekend, the study shows that the process for determining who lives and who dies in Connecticut, like those in other death-penalty states, is “utterly arbitrary and discriminatory.”

Constitutional Law 101: Federal Court Rules That Discrimination Against Muslims Violates the First Amendment
Condemning an entire faith and singling out its followers for disfavored and unequal treatment by the government violates the Constitution, it turns out. That principle might seem obvious to anyone who has read the Constitution, but the State of Oklahoma and its voters did not get the message, prompting a federal appeals court to rule this week that an Oklahoma law that discriminates against Muslims appearing before state courts likely violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

INFOGRAPHIC: Guantanamo by the Numbers
Wednesday, Jan. 11 marked 10 years since the first prisoners were sent to Guantánamo. Over the last decade, the prison camp has become a symbol of injustice, abuse and disregard for the rule of law.

A new ACLU infographic details this information, as well as other alarming facts and figures about Guantánamo. Click here to view the infographic.

Keeping "Your World" Private: Turning off Google's New Private Search Results
Want to keep your information private now that Google has started rolling out “Search, plus Your World,” a new search results format? For those signed-in with a Google account, the new feature combines search results from the public web plus private information and photos you have shared (or have been shared with you) through Google+ or Picasa. Information or photos you have shared with people through Google+ or Picasa are now going to show up in these people’s searches — perhaps indefinitely.

Senator Franken Releases New "Making It Better" Video
Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), a strong champion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and students in Congress, has just released a new three minute video in support of S. 555, the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). This legislation would have a profound impact in improving the lives of LGBT students in the U.S. by ensuring that discrimination and harassment of students on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity has no place in our country’s public elementary and secondary schools.

This is your week in civil liberties. Let us know if this is useful or if you'd like to see changes. Share your thoughts: ideas@aclu.org

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