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This Week in Civil Liberties (7/6/12)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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July 6, 2012

True or false: Aggressive collection of legal financial obligations creates a two-tiered system of justice in which the poorest defendants are punished more harshly than those with means.

Which court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act means that the contraceptive coverage rule – which ensures access to affordable birth control for millions of women across the country – is still in place?

In which state will a megabill have an impact on 100 percent of abortion providers, according to a new ACLU infographic?

Which piece of legislation which supports government transparency and accountability turned 46 on July 4?

A public middle school in which state promotes gender stereotypes in an illegal single-sex education program?

Courts Should Stop Jailing People for Being Poor

Across the country, cash-strapped cities and counties are throwing poor defendants in jail for failing to pay legal debts that they can never hope to manage. On Monday, the The New York Times told the story of Gina Ray, whose $179 speeding ticket mushroomed into $3,170 in fines and fees and 40 days in jail when she couldn’t afford to pay the fines. Gina is one of many swept up in America’s new debtors’ prisons, a growing problem nationwide.

What the Supreme Court’s Health-Care Decision Means for Birth Control Litigation

Last week, as the nation paid rapt attention, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. The decision is especially critical for women, who are more likely to suffer gaps and discrimination in their health care coverage. Importantly, it means that the contraceptive coverage rule – which ensures access to affordable birth control for millions of women across the country – is still in place.

Michigan’s War on Women by the Numbers

In June, Michigan vaulted to the top of the list of states with outrageous, regressive legislation on women’s health, placing a monster omnibus package on the fast track to becoming law. If successful, the bills would effectively make safe abortion services inaccessible in the state. One major part of the legislation, the War on Women Mega Bill, has already passed the state House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate.

Check out this infographic and learn more about how the War on Women in Michigan has hit a dangerous new low.

Happy Birthday, FOIA: The Myths and an Unlikely Hero Behind the Origin of the Freedom of Information Act

July 4 marks the 46th birthday of the Freedom of Information Act. President Lyndon Johnson signed the historic law in 1966 at his ranch in Texas. FOIA has become a cornerstone of American democracy, making it possible for Americans to find out what their government is doing and to hold it accountable for its actions.

My Daughters Deserve To Be Taught More Than Stereotypes

This piece was written by a parent whose children attend Van Devender Middle School in Wood County, West Virginia. The ACLU and the ACLU of West Virginia sent a letter to the school in May demanding an end to an unlawful single-sex education program. The school board is expected to vote on whether to continue the program shortly. Join the ACLU in our campaign to “Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes.”

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