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This Week in Civil Liberties (11/01/2013)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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November 1, 2013

In what city did police seize and auction off Leon and Mary Adams’ home because their grandson had allegedly dealt small amounts of marijuana from the porch?

What act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant workers, turned 35 this week?

Which representative and senator introduced the USA FREEDOM Act this week, a bill which would significantly limit the collection and use of Americans’ information under our nation’s spying laws?

Police in which Tennessee city used excessive force against concert attendees and infringed on the rights of one attendee who filmed police tactics?

What should be the top priority for Americans: protecting the nation or protecting ourselves?

When Did “To Serve & Protect” Become “To Seize & Profit?”

Leon and Mary Adams had been living in their Philadelphia home for nearly five decades. They were eating breakfast one morning last year when armed cops streamed out of a bunch of vans and said the couple had 10 minutes to grab their things and leave. Permanently. As in, Leon and Mary wouldn’t be allowed to come back. The cops then seized the property so they could auction it off, all because the Adams’ grandson allegedly did a few $20 marijuana deals on the porch.

I Don’t Care What Your Doctor Says. You’re Fired!

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination against employees based on pregnancy, turned 35 this week. But it’s not working the way it should, and employers are callously pushing pregnant women out of their jobs.

The USA FREEDOM Act is Real Spying Reform

Over the last several months, members of Congress have introduced at least two dozen spying reform and transparency bills. This week, a new proposal called the USA FREEDOM Act from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was introduced to significantly limit the collection and use of Americans’ information under our nation’s spying laws. The ACLU strongly supports the legislation.

What Are the Memphis Police Hiding?

It is every citizen’s right to videotape police activity in public spaces so long as they do not interfere with law enforcement. When the police act unlawfully, one might even say capturing that behavior on film is every citizen’s duty. Apparently the Memphis Police Department didn’t get that memo.

Is the Security State Mainly Looking Out For Us, Or For Itself? Two Paradigms Compared

Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing has generated much debate within the United States over whether his leaking of NSA documents was a heroic act or something deserving of punishment. And the NSA activities that he has revealed have similarly generated controversy. While many believe the NSA surveillance programs infringe on Americans’ and other individuals’ privacy rights, others think that the NSA scandal is overblown and view Snowden with an extremely dubious eye. The ACLU’s Jay Stanley blogs on two competing points of view to explain this conflict of opinion.

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