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This Week in Civil Liberties (6/8/12)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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June 8, 2012

Why should you care about surveillance if you have nothing to hide?

True or False? Several states including Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Louisiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia have taken steps to reduce overincarceration.

Which law that discriminates against same-sex couples was ruled unconstitutional by yet another federal judge?

Which ACLU affiliate unveiled this week a smart phone app that will allow users to record and report encounters with local law enforcement?

What group was disproportionately affected by Wisconsin’s voter ID law in this week’s recall election?

Plenty to Hide

The ACLU’s Jay Stanley gives six responses to the question, “Why should I care about surveillance if I have nothing to hide?”

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration
As states begin to realize that they can reduce their prison populations safely, the pace of reform has begun to pick up a bit this year. State legislative sessions are coming to a close, which makes it a good time to review the actions lawmakers have taken to reduce their unsustainable prison populations in 2012. Here are the some of the legislative reform highlights.

Another DOMA Win!
This week, another federal judge ruled that the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the federal constitution. The ruling came in an ACLU case brought by Edie Windsor after the death of her spouse and partner of 44 years, Thea Spyer. Edie’s is the fifth case in which courts have struck down DOMA, and the fourth ruling to come just in 2012 – a veritable avalanche of judicial wisdom on our side, and a sure sign of an idea whose time has come.

Stop and Frisk Watch: Keep Tabs on the NYPD with Your Smart Phone
The New York Civil Liberties Union is giving smart phones a social conscience. This week, NYCLU unveiled Stop and Frisk Watch – a new smart phone app that will empower New Yorkers to hold the NYPD accountable for unlawful, abusive street stops and other misconduct.

Wisconsin’s Recall Election: State Law Makes Voting an Uphill Battle for Young Voters
On June 5, Wisconsin held a recall election – a rarity in U.S. history – in which Gov. Scott Walker was challenged by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Unfortunately, the state’s new voting law may have diminished turnout of many residents, particularly young voters.

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