Back to News & Commentary

This Week in Civil Liberties (04/12/2013)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
Share This Page
April 12, 2013

Which court will hear the ACLU’s case against gene patenting on Monday?

Which tax collection agency can read your emails without a warrant?

Which intergovernmental organization has demanded answers for U.S. human rights violations regarding solitary confinement, felon disfranchisement, and discriminatory enforcement of criminal law?

True or false. Corporate greed spurs drug-testing companies to push lawmakers to institute mandatory, suspicionless drug-testing laws that violate the Fourth Amendment.

How much has U.S. Border Patrol grown in the past 10 years?

Voices on Human Gene Patents: An Agonizing Decision Made More Difficult Because of Gene Patents

In 2009, 20 professional medical associations, geneticists, breast cancer and women’s health groups, and patients filed a lawsuit charging that patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2 are invalid and unconstitutional. The ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation, which represents the plaintiffs, will argue this case before the Supreme Court in April 2013.

New Documents Suggest IRS Reads Emails Without a Warrant

Everyone knows the IRS is our nation’s tax collector, but it is also a law enforcement organization tasked with investigating criminal violations of the tax laws. New documents released to the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the IRS Criminal Tax Division has long taken the position that the IRS can read your emails without a warrant—a practice that one appeals court has said violates the Fourth Amendment (and we think most Americans would agree).

Seeking Justice through the U.N. Human Rights Committee

When the U.N. Human Rights Committee reviews U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) this October, the review will tackle many of the human rights violations plaguing Florida. Last week the committee released its list of issues, which will form the basis for the U.S. review, and demanded answers to questions regarding U.S. laws and policies in areas such as juvenile solitary confinement, felon disfranchisement, and discriminatory enforcement of criminal law. These human rights violations severely impact the lives of Floridians, but often evade court challenges or other domestic mechanisms of review.

As the “Drug Testing Dragnet” Widens, The Poor Continue to be Swept In

Heads up: mandatory, suspicionless drug testing is not just about violating your Fourth Amendment rights anymore. According to a recent in-depth look at what journalist Isabel MacDonald calls “The GOP’s Drug-Testing Dragnet,” it’s also about money – and lots of it. MacDonald reports that drug testing companies are eagerly cashing in on the recent urine-sampling frenzy that has impacted recipients of public benefits, government employees, and college students around the country. Not surprisingly, these companies are singing the praises of drug testing to curious lawmakers, while relishing the business boom that has accompanied this pernicious and unconstitutional trend.

Time is Now for Immigration Reform That Offers a Roadmap to Citizenship and Preserves Family Unity

Since 2003, the U.S. Border Patrol has doubled in size and now employs more than 21,000 agents, with about 85 percent of its force deployed at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Immigration reform must not be contingent on the false premise that an airtight 2,000-mile border is required. Instead, Congress should turn to ameliorating the tragedy of family separation along the southern border.

Learn more about your civil liberties: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.