Blog of Rights

This Week in Civil Liberties (6/29/12)

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 1:43pm

Dr. James Watson thinks that patenting human genes is “lunacy.” What scientific discovery is he known for?

Which court ruled this week that a sentencing scheme of mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole for children is unconstitutional?

Which discriminatory provision of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law did the Supreme Court uphold this week?

Why does the government continue to fight ACLU efforts to increase transparency regarding the targeted killing program?

What ACLU tool can you use to read over 100,000 pages of documents related to the Bush administration’s rendition, detention, and interrogation policies and practices?

James Watson, Discoverer of DNA: Patenting Human Genes Is “Lunacy”

Recently, Dr. James Watson filed an amicus brief opposing gene patenting in our lawsuit challenging Myriad Genetics' patents on two human genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Dr. Watson, along with Francis Crick, identified DNA’s ability to create life through its double helical structure and its information-coding sequences in 1953. His brief explains why, from the perspective of a scientist whose work laid the foundation for all genetic research, gene patenting is “lunacy.”

ACLU Lens: Supreme Court Rules Against Mandatory Life Without Parole for Children

A message for Alabama, Arkansas, and the entire United States: a sentencing scheme of mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders (JLWOP) is cruel and unusual punishment. That’s what the Supreme Court said this week when it ruled in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs that such sentencing schemes violate the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Supreme Court Deals Blow to 3 Provisions of Arizona’s Racial Profiling Law but Allows “Show Me Your Papers” Provision to Live Another Day

This week’s Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. United States rightly rejects three parts of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law as unconstitutional. Yet critically, the Court opens the door to racial profiling by upholding the most egregious provision, the “show me your papers” provision, Section 2(B) of the law. The Court did, however, recognize that in practice Section 2(B) may suffer from constitutional defects that make it vulnerable to legal challenge going forward. But the Court basically kicked the racial profiling can down the road. The ACLU will seize this opportunity and continue the battle against laws like SB 1070 which encourage and codify racial profiling of immigrant communities and people of color.

The Government’s Pseudo-Secrecy Snow Job on Targeted Killing

Just before a midnight deadline on Wednesday, the government filed its legal brief responding to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information about the legal and factual basis for the deaths of three U.S. citizens in targeted killing drone strikes last fall. Our initial reaction to the brief is here, but the government’s position is so remarkable that it warrants further comment.

ACLU Launches Torture Database in Recognition of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

For Torture Awareness Month, we are launching the Torture Database, a compilation of over 100,000 pages of documents related to the Bush administration’s rendition, detention, and interrogation policies and practices. The database is our effort to provide meaningful public access to the primary documentation of torture and abuse during the years following September 11, 2001.

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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