Blog of Rights

Shut Up or Get Out: PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police

Shut Up or Get Out: PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police

By Sandra Park, ACLU at 3:24pm

Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs' boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events...

Lioness: The Reality of Women’s Combat Experiences

Lioness: The Reality of Women’s Combat Experiences

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 2:33pm

Shannon Morgan was always a good shot, a skill she acquired growing up in rural Arkansas. As a member of a U.S. Army “Lioness” team of women soldiers in Iraq in 2003, she held her own in firefights and went out on patrols with both Army and Marine…

Victory! Town Will No Longer Treat Domestic Violence Victims as Nuisances

Victory! Town Will No Longer Treat Domestic Violence Victims as Nuisances

By Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 4:18pm

Three strikes and you're out of your home and on the street – all because you called 911 for help. That was the nightmare faced by Lakisha Briggs and other residents of Norristown, Pa.

Under a local ordinance, three calls to the police in…

"Hey Baby:" Enduring Street Harassment

"Hey Baby:" Enduring Street Harassment

By Louise Melling, Director, Center of Liberty; Deputy Legal Director, ACLU & Louise Melling, Director, Center of Liberty; Deputy Legal Director, ACLU at 3:46pm

I'm nearly 50. I'm tremendously fortunate. I live in a safe neighborhood, I am comfortable, and I have the privilege of a terrific education and opportunities in life. I am not timid — I have spent much of my life suing states for violating…

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! Federal Jury Holds Catholic School Accountable for Sex Discrimination

VICTORY! Federal Jury Holds Catholic School Accountable for Sex Discrimination

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 3:28pm

Emily Herx never imagined that she could lose her job for trying to get pregnant. But after working for more than seven years as a literature and language arts teacher at a Catholic school in Indiana, she was shocked to learn that her teaching contract…

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…

A Win for Transgender Students You May Have Missed

A Win for Transgender Students You May Have Missed

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:17pm

This piece originally appeared in Slate on Dec. 3, 2014.

On Monday, the Department of Education released a long-awaited, much-needed guidance for elementary and secondary schools that offer or want to offer single-sex classes.

Included…

Treating School Kids Differently Based on Sex = Discrimination

Treating School Kids Differently Based on Sex = Discrimination

By Galen Sherwin, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 1:08pm

It should be a foregone conclusion that treating boys and girls differently in school is sex discrimination. Except in many schools across the country that isn't the case. Hopefully that's about to change.

A guidance document issued Monday…