ACLU of Alaska Urges Anchorage Officials to Protect Civil Liberties During COVID-19 Response

Affiliate: ACLU of Alaska
March 24, 2020 3:00 pm

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ANCHORAGE – The ACLU of Alaska offered guidance to Anchorage officials, as the Municipality takes restrictive measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Anyone with concerns or problems regarding these new measures should contact covid19@acluak.org.

In testimony addressed to Anchorage Assembly Chair Forrest Dunbar, regarding Ordinance 2020-34(S), which would expand the powers of the Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage during a public health emergency, ACLU of Alaska Policy Director Triada Stampas offered recommendations on eight amendments to ensure local leaders find a lawful balance that protects public health and protects the civil liberties of residents.

“As government takes the necessary steps to ensure public health, it must also safeguard people’s civil rights and liberties, particularly rights to due process, privacy, and equal protection,” Stampas wrote. “Unfortunately, history teaches us that our government is most prone to committing abuses in times of crisis. The laws passed in this crisis should be designed to ensure that broad powers are not misused beyond legitimate needs.”

Here are the guidelines the ACLU of Alaska is urging Anchorage leaders to follow, as they respond the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Any government restrictions on liberty must be scientifically justified, and the least restrictive measures available to protect public health;
  • Any government restrictions on liberty must be continually re-evaluated to ensure they remain justified in light of scientific evidence as conditions evolve;
  • Anyone subject to mandatory medical procedures, isolation, or quarantine must have due process rights, including the right to challenge those orders before a neutral decision-maker and the right to legal counsel;
  • Anyone subject to mandatory medical procedures, isolation, or quarantine should be informed of their due process rights;
  • Any government restrictions on liberty must not be imposed or implemented in a manner that discriminates against individuals on the basis of a protected characteristic (eg., race, religion, national origin, LGBTQ+ status, etc.); and
  • Anyone under mandatory quarantine orders must be given access to adequate food, medical supplies, and other basic necessities.

Read the full letter explaining each suggestion, clarification, and proposed amendment, here.

The Anchorage Assembly will be considering amendments and voting on AO 2020-34 on Tuesday, March 24.

The ACLU of Alaska is actively tracking the impacts to civil liberties during the COVID-19 response. All resources – including letters to public officials, civil rights and liberty information, hotline information, and press releases are available, here.

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