Blog of Rights

On the Agenda: Week of May 7-13, 2012

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 1:38pm

Congress is back, so we’re looking at a busy schedule this week.

As we mentioned last week, this Wednesday the House Armed Services Committee will mark up this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. We’re keeping a close eye on NDAA amendments, which could affect several diverse civil liberties issues, including LGBT rights, indefinite detention, reproductive rights, and military sexual trauma.

Monday, May 7th 

Voting Rights: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a field hearing in Cleveland, Ohio to examine the impact of Ohio’s new voting law, HB 194, titled “New State Voting Laws III: Protecting the Right to Vote in America’s Heartland.”

Tuesday, May 8th 

Transportation Authorization Bill: House and Senate conferees will meet to consider HR 4348, which would authorize federal highway programs through the end of the current fiscal year. We take no position on the overall bill, but are interested in several provisions in the Senate-passed version, affecting racial profiling, privacy and freedom to travel issues.

Reproductive and Women’s Rights: The Service Women’s Action Network’s (SWAN) will hold the organization’s 2012 summit on military sexual violence. The ACLU has cosponsored the event and ACLU staff attorney Sandra Park will participate on a panel and discuss the FOIA suit by SWAN and the ACLU seeking records from the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs regarding their response to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence in the military.

Women’s Rights: The House Committee on the Judiciary will mark up the House version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 (HR 4970). There are several ACLU issues of interest/concern: LGBT, housing, Native American women, immigration detention, cyber-stalking, mandatory minimums, new criminal penalties, etc.

Sex Education: From May 8-9, the ACLU will cohost the sixth annual State Summit, where sex education advocates from across the country will come to lobby their members of Congress in support of comprehensive sex education. In addition, there will be panels of speakers who will discuss ways of better promoting comprehensive sex education.

Border Security: Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee (Chairwoman Miller, R-Mich.) of House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled "Measuring Border Security: U.S. Border Patrol's New Strategic Plan and the Path Forward."

Wednesday, May 9th 

LGBT Rights/ National Security/Detention/Reproductive Rights and Women’s Rights: The House Armed Services Committee will mark up the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4310) on Wednesday, May 9th beginning at 10am. There are numerous areas of ACLU interest/concern, including expected anti-LGBT amendments that will be offered by Republicans,as well as potential amendments regarding indefinite detention. We will also monitor the markup for any amendments related to abortion and military sexual trauma. 

Privacy: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (Chairman Rockefeller, D-W.Va.) will hold a hearing titled "The Need for Privacy Protections: Perspectives from the Administration and the Federal Trade Commission."

Thursday, May 10th  

Pardon Power/Drug Sentencing: Legislative Counsel Jesselyn McCurdy will participate in a panel discussion in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and the Open Society Foundations. The panel is titled, Reimagining the Constitutional Pardon Power: Does the President have a Role in Making Drug Sentences Fairer?

Friday, May 11th

This Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in an ACLU legal challengeto the “No Fly List”—a component of the government’s watch list system. Our plaintiffs – fifteen American citizens and lawful permanent residents who cannot fly to or from the U.S. or over its airspace because they are on the list – have not been told why they are on the list or given a meaningful chance to clear their names.

Also Happening This Week

FY2013 Appropriations: The FY2013 Commerce Justice Science (CJS) appropriations bill, HR 5326, is expected to be on the House floor. We anticipate anti-immigration amendments to be introduced.

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