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This Week in Civil Liberties (03/29/2013)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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March 29, 2013

A document uncovered by which ACLU affiliate shows that federal investigators were routinely using a cell phone surveillance tool but withholding information on the technology from the courts in applications for electronic surveillance orders?

Which federal court heard arguments this week on behalf of Edie Windsor against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act?

Which state enacted a law that bans most abortions in the state?

What government blacklist violates the due process rights of 13 ACLU plaintiffs by denying them the ability to travel by plane without a way to get off the blacklist?

The Obama administration may be moving full control of the government’s targeted killing program to which federal agency?

DOJ Emails Show Feds Were Less Than “Explicit” With Judges On Cell Phone Tracking Tool

A Justice Department document obtained by the ACLU of Northern California shows that federal investigators were routinely using a sophisticated cell phone tracking tool known as a “stingray,” but hiding that fact from federal magistrate judges when asking for permission to do so.

This week at the Supreme Court: Ms. Windsor Goes to Washington

This week, “Team Edie” was in Washington, D.C. for Wednesday’s Supreme Court oral arguments in Edie Windsor’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Edie’s case presents a straightforward question of equality: Is it fair for the federal government to pretend that her marriage to Thea Spyer, with whom she shared her life for 44 years, never happened? That’s what DOMA requires the federal government to do – treat the approximately 130,000 married same-sex couples in the United States as unmarried for purposes of the 1,100 different federal programs where being married makes a difference – from family medical leave, to social security survivor benefits, to veterans’ benefits. The Court’s answer to that question will determine whether DOMA falls.

North Dakota Today. What’s Next Tomorrow?

This week, North Dakota achieved the shameful distinction of enacting the most restrictive law on abortion in any state. In addition to passing a bill that would ban abortions after only six weeks of pregnancy, Gov. Jack Dalrymple also signed into law a separate bill that targets women with medically complicated pregnancies and a bill designed to shut down the one abortion clinic in the state.

The Constitution Applies When the Government Bans Americans from the Skies

The government does not have the unchecked authority to place individuals on a secret blacklist without providing them any meaningful opportunity to object, the ACLU argued in a brief filed last Friday with the federal district court in Oregon.

Obama’s Drone Killing Program Slowly Emerges from the Secret State Shadows

Should we be happy or worried that the CIA may, someday soon, no longer be able to order a drone pilot to shoot a Hellfire missile in some faraway land?

According to several news reports, the Obama administration may be moving full control over its targeted killing program to the Department of Defense, provoking reactions among human rights advocates ranging from handwringing to cautious praise.

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