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This Week in Civil Liberties (08/23/2013)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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August 23, 2013

Which recently-convicted whistleblower will be seeking hormone therapy as part of her transition during incarceration?

An amendment in which state was would have barred state courts from applying — or even considering — foreign law, international law, and Islamic Sharia law if it hadn’t been struck down by a federal court last week?

The gag order consented to by a family affected by pollution from fracking may infringe on what constitutional amendment?

In what state did the ACLU file an emergency order on behalf of Jen Roper so that she could be granted her dying wish of marrying her partner?

How many people converged in Washington, D.C. 50 years ago to demand the end of racially discriminatory practices in employment, voting, housing, education, public accommodations, and transportation?

ACLU Response to Chelsea Manning’s Disclosure of Gender Dysphoria

In response to Chelsea Manning’s disclosure that she is female, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and will be seeking hormone therapy as a part of her transition during her incarceration, public statements by military officials that the Army does not provide hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria raise serious constitutional concerns. Gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition in which a person’s gender identity does not correspond to his or her assigned sex at birth, and hormone therapy is part of the accepted standards of care for this condition. Without the necessary treatment, gender dysphoria can cause severe psychological distress, including anxiety and suicide. When the government holds individuals in its custody, it must provide them with medically necessary care.

Oklahoma Can’t “Save” Itself from the U.S. Constitution

Last week, a federal court struck down Oklahoma’s so-called “Save Our State Amendment,” sending an important reminder that “[w]hile the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out, … the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights.” The “Save Our State Amendment” barred state courts from applying — or even considering — foreign law, international law, and Islamic Sharia law.


Earlier this month, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette managed to unseal an extraordinary court transcript. In it, a local court approved an unusual settlement agreement between the Hallowich family and several natural gas companies, including Texas-based Range Resources, after the family claimed the companies contaminated their land through nearby “hydraulic fracturing,” more commonly known as “fracking.

The Hallowichs agreed to drop their lawsuit in exchange for $750,000, with which they planned to buy a new, unpolluted house.

They also agreed to a broad gag order, which raises several First Amendment issues for the books.

With Less Than 18 Months to Live, She Wants To Get Married

Our freedom to marry lawsuit in New Mexico has just gotten more urgent.

Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman hoped that New Mexico would get around to allowing same-sex couples to marry sooner or later, and assumed that they had plenty of time. But last December, Jen was diagnosed with an advanced and aggressive brain cancer. Even with treatment, she was given 18 months to live.

Jen and Angelique want to marry because they want to show their sons what their relationship means. They want to secure the same state and federal protections that all other married couples get. And, on Jen’s death certificate, they want Angelique to be listed as the surviving spouse.

The March on Washington through a Child’s Eyes

Fifty years ago, more than 200,000 people converged on the National Mall to fight for civil and economic rights. From voting rights to housing discrimination, many of those same rights are still at risk a half century later. Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office Laura Murphy remembers the March on Washington.

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