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This Week in Civil Liberties

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The text, "Week in Review."
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March 25, 2011

ACLU news this week included some victories — our FAA challenge will go forward, the Google books settlement was rejected, Afghan activist Malalai Joya got her visa to visit the USA — and some new and continuing challenges for us — outrageous abortion law in South Dakota and evolution v. creationism in Tennesee redux. It’s the second-to-last week of Women’s History Month and the first week of spring. I think we can all get behind that.

Issues of the Week:

Court Says Plaintiffs Can Challenge Bush Wiretapping Law
Finally. A federal appeals court ruled that our suit representing organizations, authors, journalists, attorneys, and others whose work requires sensitive and sometimes privileged telephone and e-mail communications could go forward. The judge said, “the FAA has put the plaintiffs in a lose-lose situation.”

South Dakota Governor Signs Outrageous Law Restricting Abortion Care
This is a bill that requires women to jump through flaming hoops for abortion care; women must get counseling — which is, by law, invasive, anti-choice and medically frightening — and then wait 72 anxious and potentially dangerous hours before being allowed access to their constitutional right to an abortion. Governor, we’ll see you in court.

Tennessee‘s Evolution Two-Step
This week marked the 86th anniversary of the Butler Act, which criminalized the teaching of evolution in Tennessee and set the scene for the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial.” Tennessee lawmakers thought this was a terrific moment to unveil a new anti-evolution bill characterizing the scientific theory of evolution as “controversial.”

Secrecy and Surveillance
“The sad truth is that despite five years of litigation, we still don’t know much about the surveillance policies that the Bush administration introduced after 9/11.” Jameel Jaffer sums up the state of play in the ACLU’s work to expose illegal surveillance.

Judge Cites Privacy Concerns in Rejecting Google Books Settlement
The ACLU of Northern California, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Samuelson Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, had called for greater privacy protections from digital book services that can collect detailed information about readers. We must ensure that private browsing and reading history does not improperly end up in the hands of the government or third parties.

Unlikely Allies and Their Arguments
Scott Turow, author and former prosecutor, agrees with us
: Opposition to the death penalty isn’t a conservative v. liberal argument. Capital punishment is unfair, un-American, and unsuccessful.

Women’s History Month Series
This week the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project blogged on a woman forced to remove the hijab (headscarf) she wears as part of her religious faith; the terrible irony for women in prison that often the abuse and subordination that brought them to prison are replicated behind prison walls; the legacy of Patricia M. Arnold, a pioneer woman aviator and longtime supporter of the ACLU of Virginia; and a different kind of basketball victory for girls and Title IX in Michigan. See all the posts from our blog symposium here.

And join us for this if you can: Defend Reproductive Healthcare on Thursday, April 7

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