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This Week in Civil Liberties (01/24/2014)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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January 24, 2014

What Canadian celebrity, arrested for drag racing this week, could be deported if convicted of a felony?

In what state did a public school teacher bully a Buddhist student about his faith to the point of making him physically sick?

The racist social media reaction to what Seattle Seahawks player’s post-game interview demonstrates the double standards sports players of color face?

Which civil rights leader was spied on by the FBI as part of its COINTELPRO program?

What international treaty did Texas violate this week by executing a Mexican national?

What Justin Bieber’s Arrest Would Mean for Another Non-Citizen
This week Justin Bieber was arrested for late-night drag racing in Miami Beach. If convicted, another immigrant in his situation would very likely languish in immigration detention before being deported. That person—like 84 percent of people in immigration detention– would also likely not have an immigration attorney, let alone a high-priced one.

If You Want To Fit In At This Public School Just Become Christian
Like many people raised in a Christian environment, Scott Lane didn’t see any danger in official prayer during graduation or a football game, or a teacher mentioning her religious beliefs when discussing evolution. But when his stepson, who had been raised a Buddhist, enrolled in the sixth grade at Lane’s local school, Negreet High, it became personal, and he could no longer turn a blind eye to the very real harms that occur when school officials violate the separation of church and state.

An Unequal Playing Field: A Response To Richard Sherman’s Post Super Bowl Playoff Game “Outburst”
After two hard-fought games over the weekend, it was determined that the Denver Broncos would be facing the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII next month. Both teams have overcome significant obstacles this season to reach the championship game — but the social media world was only focused on one thing last Sunday night — Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s post playoff game outburst.

MLK, Spying, and the “Urgency of the Moment”
This week, we paused to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. for — as President Obama put it so lyrically last year — giving a “mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions” and offering a “salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike.” President Obama’s announcement last week that he will seek to end the government’s collection of Americans’ phone records is a welcome first step toward honoring another important but oft-forgotten part of Dr. King’s story: our government’s obsessive campaign of surveillance of his private life, as part of the FBI’s shameful COINTELPRO program.

Texas Shouldn’t – BUT JUST DID – Execute a Mexican National
On Wednesday, at 9:32 p.m., the state of Texas executed Edgar Arias Tamayo, a 46-year-old Mexican national. Injecting lethal drugs into Mr. Tamayo’s bloodstream was a clear violation of the United States’ international obligations, and yet the state of Texas wasn’t deterred.

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