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This Week in Civil Liberties (5/18/12)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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May 18, 2012

Which law could be used to restrict the right to protest at next week’s NATO summit?

Which government watch list can you get on but are entirely at the government’s mercy if you want to get off?

A lawmaker from which state would rather women die than have abortion remain legal?

In which state did a grandmother get sentenced to life without parole for a nonviolent first-time drug offense?

An amendment to which law would have repealed indefinite military detention without charge or trial in the United States?

Protesting NATO: What to Know About the Secret Service and H.R. 347

The NATO summit set for May 20-21in Chicago could be the first public test of H.R. 347, the recently passed law that expanded the ability of the Secret Service to suppress protests in or around certain restricted zones near individuals under its protection.

Ninth Circuit Presses Government Lawyer on Watch Lists: “What Would You Do?”

Earlier this month, the ACLU was in court to argue that the government placing our clients on the No Fly List without providing them an opportunity to confront and rebut the “evidence” against them is unconstitutional. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski had a simple question for the government’s attorney: what would you do if you found yourself on the No Fly List? Judging by his answer, not even the government seems to know how to get off the watch list.

Bubba and His Poor, Pitiful Women

This week, a video leaked of Mississippi Representative Lester “Bubba” Carpenter gloating that he and his anti-choice cronies had passed a bill that could effectively put an end to safe, legal abortion in the state of Mississippi, even if it means that women die.

Without a Card to Play, Texas Grandma Sentenced to Life without Parole for First-Time Drug Offense

Texans can sleep more soundly at night knowing that Elisa Castillo, a grandmother and nonviolent first-time drug offender, is serving a life without parole sentence in Fort Worth. Yes, you read that right — the latest casualty of our War on Drugs is a grandmother who never even touched the drugs that sent her to prison. Though she may not look like Public Enemy No. 1, our persistently illogical criminal justice system has determined that this harsh punishment fits her crime. The truth, though, is that her fate was sealed, in large part, because she didn’t have a card to play when negotiating her sentence.

36 Hours Left! Tell Congress to Pass the Smith-Amash Amendment to the NDAA

Last night, the Smith-Amash amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act , which would have repealed the mandatory military detention requirement and banned indefinite detention, failed in the House on a 182-237 vote. The vote for the amendment was bipartisan, with 19 Republican members backing the measure.

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