Blog of Rights

Religion Isn’t a Free Pass to Discriminate Against Employees

Religion Isn’t a Free Pass to Discriminate Against Employees

By Christina Brandt-Young, Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project & Jenny Lee, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union at 5:49pm
Across the country teachers at religiously affiliated schools are being fired for their reproductive choices.  What’s worse, the schools are unapologetic, claiming they have the right to discriminate because of their religious beliefs.
Cosplaying While Gay, Black, or Female at New York Comic Con

Cosplaying While Gay, Black, or Female at New York Comic Con

By Danielle Aronson, ACLU at 11:04am

This past weekend was New York Comic Con (NYCC), and in addition to the usual comic book enthusiasts and army of animated cosplayers, there seemed to be a bit of an uprising brewing. Much to my delight, there were quite a few panels addressing the…

Sometimes It Only Takes An Hour to Get the Picture: This Single-Sex Program Won't Fly

Sometimes It Only Takes An Hour to Get the Picture: This Single-Sex Program Won't Fly

By Amy L. Katz, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 2:37pm

Sometimes all it takes is a letter and an hour to do the right thing.

After the ACLU learned late last week about a plan to assign ninth-grade students at Lawrence Free State High School in Kansas to different classrooms based on their sex,…

What's Next? Prosecuting a Pregnant Woman for Working Full Time?

What's Next? Prosecuting a Pregnant Woman for Working Full Time?

By Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project at 11:40am

This summer, Tennessee thumbed its nose at doctors, nearly every national medical association, addiction experts, and women's right activists and passed a law that essentially criminalizes pregnancy. In short, this deeply misguided law risks the health…

Taking a Stand Against a 21st Century Scarlet Letter

Taking a Stand Against a 21st Century Scarlet Letter

By Mie Lewis, Women's Rights Project at 10:49am

Today, we filed suit in federal court on behalf of Jennifer Maudlin, a single mother who was fired when her employer learned that she was pregnant. Jennifer's employer – a religiously-affiliated community organization called Inside Out – says that…

Calling the Police Can Get You Evicted

Calling the Police Can Get You Evicted

By Katie Miller & Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 4:46pm

Across the country, a growing number of cities are adopting nuisance ordinances that impose fines and criminal penalties on landlords and tenants when the police are called too many times to the property. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, landlords may be fined…

Will Justice Scalia Be the Savior of the Fair Housing Act?

Will Justice Scalia Be the Savior of the Fair Housing Act?

By Rachel Goodman, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 5:08pm

Going into this week's argument in Inclusive Communities Project, a Supreme Court case that will determine the future of the Fair Housing Act, all eyes were on Justice Kennedy. It's often Justice Kennedy who casts the deciding vote in cases about the…

UPS Finally Admits the Obvious – Letting Pregnant Workers Work is Good for Business

UPS Finally Admits the Obvious – Letting Pregnant Workers Work is Good for Business

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 3:36pm

We recently reported that the fight to let pregnant workers come to work has finally reached the Supreme Court.

On December 3, the court will hear the case of Peggy Young, a United Parcel Service (UPS) package driver who was forced off the…

Why Gene Patents Are Unlawful

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 11:46am

(Originally posted on ACSBlog.)

Last week the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government's practice of granting patents on human genes - specifically, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are associated with breast and ovarian cancer. In the last 20 or so years the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has issued patents on thousands of human genes — the segments of DNA that we all have in our cells — giving private corporations, individuals, and universities the exclusive rights to those genetic sequences and their usage.

The patents on the BRCA genes are particularly broad and offensive. The PTO has granted Myriad Genetics, a private biotechnology company based in Utah, patents on both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic sequences, on any mutations along those genes, on any methods for locating mutations on the genes, without further specification on the type of methods, and on correlations between genetic mutations and susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer.

The lawsuit charges, as critics of gene patents have argued for years, that gene patents stifle biomedical research and interfere with patients' access to genetic testing. The lawsuit argues that the patents on the BRCA genes are unconstitutional and invalid given the long-standing legal precedent that "products of nature" and "laws of nature" are not patentable. The suit also makes the novel argument that the practice of patenting genes, their correlations with disease, and the thought of comparing two genes violates the First Amendment and interferes with scientific freedom.

VICTORY! Supreme Court Decides: Our Genes Belong to Us, Not Companies

VICTORY! Supreme Court Decides: Our Genes Belong to Us, Not Companies

By Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 11:35am

Should companies be able to patent human genes? Today, the Supreme Court answered that profound question with a resounding NO.

Seems like common sense, right? But over the last 30 years, the U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on thousands…