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This Week in Civil Liberties

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The text, "Week in Review."
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February 4, 2011

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Free Speech: You Have the Right!
Snapping a picture of a public building from public property is every photographer’s right. Recently, though, pointing a camera at federal buildings seems to magnetically attract suspicion from federal security officers. The New York Civil Liberties Union has encountered several cases of people who were unjustly harassed, detained and arrested by federal agents while photographing or videotaping federal buildings from public plazas and sidewalks. Learn more about how the ACLU protects your free speech.

South Dakota Law Makes a Tough Choice Even More Painful
Women choosing to have an abortion in South Dakota go to the only abortion clinic in the state, where one doctor performs abortions once a week. After 2008’s 8th Circuit Court decision in Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota v. Rounds (PDF), the doctor on duty must now, by law, tell each woman that “An abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” This requirement is just one more tactic anti-choice forces are using to chip away at the freedom to choose in what is already one of the most restrictive states in the country.

FBI Spying on Political Organizations – More Evidence
In 2006, the ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania released evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted investigations into a political organization based solely on its anti-war views. Although previously disclosed documents showed that the FBI retains files on anti-war groups, these two documents revealed that the FBI investigated gatherings of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice solely because the organization opposed the war in Iraq.

Illinois Civil Unions Continue Spread of Same-Sex Relationship Recognition
This week, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that brought civil unions to Illinois. In recognition of this milestone, we’ve created an animated infographic to illustrate how laws recognizing and protecting the relationships of same-sex couples have quickly spread across the country over the last decade. As soon as next week, a bill in Maryland could continue the spread of marriage fairness for same-sex couples.

For Those of You Stuck in Bad Weather, Preparing to Travel…
See-through body scanning machines, which project an image of a passenger’s naked body, are invading travelers’ privacy, revealing highly personal details such as mastectomies, colostomy appliances, penile implants, catheter tubes, and the size of their breasts or genitals as a prerequisite to boarding a plane. Security measures that intrusive should be used only when there is cause to suspect an individual is a security risk. Learn more here.

What do Robert Redford and Ellen Barkin Have in Common with the ACLU?
Robert Redford and Ellen Barkin joined director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Fair Game) and an all-star cast at Sundance Film Festival to perform “Reckoning With Torture: Memos and Testimonies From the ‘War on Terror.'” The event, presented by the ACLU, PEN American Center and Sundance, featured readings of formerly secret government documents. The production was filmed for a documentary Liman is directing to raise awareness of the scope and human cost of the United States’ post-9/11 torture program.

Historic Votes in American History
Every country has important milestones, here are some important U.S. moments at a glance. Learn about your voting rights here.

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