Blog of Rights

This Week in Civil Liberties (2/3/2012)

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 5:59pm

This week we sued the government for information on what program?

Why was ACLU of Ohio client Zach bullied and beaten in school?

Which movie rental company will be able to share your video rental records perpetually if H.R. 2471 is passed?

Which government department has announced a new rule that will prevent discrimination against LGBT families in its programs?

Which laws will the execution of Edwin Hart Turner violate?

ACLU Sues U.S. for Information on Targeted Killing Program
This week we filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to demand that the government release basic — and accurate — information about the government’s targeted killing program.

The government’s deliberate and premeditated killing of American terrorism suspects raises profound questions that ought to be the subject of public debate. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has released very little information about the practice — its official position is that the targeted killing program is a state secret — and some of the information it has released has been misleading.

Victim of Brutal LGBT Bullying in Ohio School Tells His Story
This week, the ACLU released a new video that features Zach and his mom, Becky Collins. Last fall, the brutal, unprovoked beating of Zach, an openly gay student at Unioto High School in Chillicothe, Ohio, made national headlines when a video of the incident went viral online. Zach and Becky describe years of unending discrimination and harassment that Zach experienced at school based on his perceived sexual orientation. As the years went on, the abuse only escalated. Becky’s pleas to school officials to protect her son were ignored.

Please join the ACLU in urging Congress to pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act to make schools safe and fair for students like Zach.

Will Congress Take Privacy Out of Your Netflix Queue?
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing this week on a piece of legislation, H.R. 2471, that you likely haven’t heard of but will have a big impact on your privacy and your Netflix account. Yes, Netflix. Sometimes even called the Netflix bill (they have claimed responsibility for pushing it), it would let consumers grant companies perpetual consent to share video rental records, rather than requiring consumers to decide if they want to share information every time they make a purchase.

New HUD Rule Delivers for LGBT Americans
This week, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that a proposed rule regarding equal access to HUD housing programs regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity will take effect next month. The rule bans inquiries about sexual orientation or gender identity, and prohibits using sexual orientation or gender identity as grounds for decision-making in Federal Housing Administration programs. Additionally, the rule brings the definition of “eligible families” into the 21st century by including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. 

Too Crazy to Kill
Unless Edwin Hart Turner gets clemency from the governor or a last-minute stay, he will be executed on Feb. 8 by Mississippi.

Turner murdered two men in botched hold-ups. His attorneys do not claim he is innocent, and no one can diminish the tragic loss to two families. But executing Turner should be off the table: he is severely mentally ill, and it violates the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and international human rights law to execute the mentally ill. Virtually every mainstream organization representing mental health experts and families of the mentally ill says so, and the American Bar Association (which does not take a position on the death penalty itself) agrees.

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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