Archive for the ‘ACLU’ Category

Quinn Signs Sterilization Bill

September 5, 2009

When K.E.J. was 8 years old, she suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident.

When she was 26, her guardian attempted to obtain a court order to have the young woman sterilized. K.E.J., as she is known in court documents to protect her privacy, had no idea.

Before Tuesday, when Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a measure that would require court orders approving the sterilization of people with disabilities, guardians could take steps to have their wards sterilized without the individual’s consent.

Rep. Kathy Ryg (D-Vernon Hills), the original bill’s chief sponsor, says the law shows how society has evolved, citing the recent obituary of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, whose sister Rose was mentally disabled and had a lobotomy.

She says it also gives all parties protection under the law.

“I think it provides the due process that really protects all parties, most particularly the individual, but also the family, the guardian and the doctor,” Ryg says. “Once it was brought to people’s attention, it became clear there was a gap in the due process.”

“This is so important. All women need, deserve and should have all their options as to whether to become a parent or not to become a parent available to them,” says Shelley Davis, vice president of programs and advocacy for Chicago Foundation for Women.

In the case of K.E.J., her guardian’s request was denied twice. K.E.J., did not find out about her guardian’s attempt to have her sterilized until she consulted with Equip for Equality on another matter. Court records were then uncovered.

Before Quinn signed the bill, Illinois was one of 16 states that did not require a court order to perform such a procedure. Other states in the Midwest that do not require a court order include Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.

Leah Bartelt, staff counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, says the law adds another layer of oversight for guardians, who are already scrutinized by the courts.

“Bringing the court in to assess whether … the ward would be able to make the decision on their own is an important step,” she says.

Under the law, courts would assign an agent to meet with the ward to discuss the petition for sterilization. After consulting with the ward, reviewing his or her mental capacity and ensuring he or she understands the petition, the court will make a decision.

Full Article and Source:
Quinn Signs Sterilization Bill

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>Judge Violated 1st Amendment

July 19, 2009

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The Court of Appeals sided with a minister who said his free speech rights were violated after he was imprisoned for criticizing a judge using biblical verses.

Michael Steinberg, Michigan legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Pinkney in his free speech claims: “The Court of Appeals opinion reaffirms the basic American value that citizens cannot be imprisoned for criticizing government officials or expressing their religious beliefs. To our knowledge, this case marks the first time in modern history that a preacher has been thrown in prison for predicting what God might do.”

The minister had been sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison for writing a newspaper article that criticized the judge who presided over his trial. In his criticism, he talked about what God would do to the judge. Quoting from the Bible, Pinkney said, “the Lord shall smite thee.”

Full Article and Source:
Michigan news briefs: Court rules judge violated 1st Amendment

More information:
Minister Wins Right to Threaten Judge with Biblical Curses

Appeals court hears case of Rev. Pinkney

Rev. Pinkney barred from his own hearing

Rev. Edward Pinkney article:
Corrupt judge denies new jury trial in Pinkney case

Judge Violated 1st Amendment

July 19, 2009
The Court of Appeals sided with a minister who said his free speech rights were violated after he was imprisoned for criticizing a judge using biblical verses.

Michael Steinberg, Michigan legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Pinkney in his free speech claims: “The Court of Appeals opinion reaffirms the basic American value that citizens cannot be imprisoned for criticizing government officials or expressing their religious beliefs. To our knowledge, this case marks the first time in modern history that a preacher has been thrown in prison for predicting what God might do.”

The minister had been sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison for writing a newspaper article that criticized the judge who presided over his trial. In his criticism, he talked about what God would do to the judge. Quoting from the Bible, Pinkney said, “the Lord shall smite thee.”

Full Article and Source:
Michigan news briefs: Court rules judge violated 1st Amendment

More information:
Minister Wins Right to Threaten Judge with Biblical Curses

Appeals court hears case of Rev. Pinkney

Rev. Pinkney barred from his own hearing

Rev. Edward Pinkney article:
Corrupt judge denies new jury trial in Pinkney case

>Class Action Against Law Examiners

July 13, 2009

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has launched a class action against that state’s board of law examiners, asserting that inquiries into the mental health of those seeking a law license violate federal disabilities law.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of a woman licensed in Illinois who is seeking admission to the Indiana State Bar Association. Identified as “Jane Doe” in the action, the plaintiff seeks an injunction prohibiting the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners from asking certain questions about mental fitness. She also seeks a declaratory judgment that the questions on the application and the board’s follow-up procedures violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The case mirrors actions in other states that have challenged certain questions regarding mental health on professional license applications. Similar challenges have resulted in the removal or modification of such questions in Maine, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Full Article and Source:
Lawsuit Claims Indiana Law Examiners Violate the ADA

Class Action Against Law Examiners

July 13, 2009
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has launched a class action against that state’s board of law examiners, asserting that inquiries into the mental health of those seeking a law license violate federal disabilities law.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of a woman licensed in Illinois who is seeking admission to the Indiana State Bar Association. Identified as “Jane Doe” in the action, the plaintiff seeks an injunction prohibiting the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners from asking certain questions about mental fitness. She also seeks a declaratory judgment that the questions on the application and the board’s follow-up procedures violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The case mirrors actions in other states that have challenged certain questions regarding mental health on professional license applications. Similar challenges have resulted in the removal or modification of such questions in Maine, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Full Article and Source:
Lawsuit Claims Indiana Law Examiners Violate the ADA

>"Disruption of Congress"

June 20, 2009

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2005 – Activist Elena Sassower annoyed congress, her trial judge, and defenders of free speech—all the way to jail

Two days before Christmas, Elena Sassower walked out of the Washington, D.C., jail where she’d just finished serving a sentence that should frighten anyone inclined to protest in the halls of power.

For reading a 24-word request to testify at a judicial appointment hearing on Capitol Hill, an act that qualified as “disruption of Congress,” Sassower was hit with six months’ incarceration—the maximum allowed by law. Despite the grave constitutional implications of her case, not one of the dozen civil rights organizations she’d asked for help came to her assistance: not the ACLU, not Public Citizen, not People for the American Way, not Common Cause.

Her real crime, it seems, was her penchant for being a pest. Reached by the Voice, attorneys from three such organizations refused to comment or spoke only off the record. One attorney privately told the Voice that his group’s unwillingness to lend Sassower a hand had “nothing to do with the merits of her claims” and “everything to do with her being a very difficult person.” Sassower ended up acting as her own lawyer, doing herself no favors in the trial.

Full Article and Source:
The Scourge of Her Conviction

"Disruption of Congress"

June 20, 2009
2005 – Activist Elena Sassower annoyed congress, her trial judge, and defenders of free speech—all the way to jail

Two days before Christmas, Elena Sassower walked out of the Washington, D.C., jail where she’d just finished serving a sentence that should frighten anyone inclined to protest in the halls of power.

For reading a 24-word request to testify at a judicial appointment hearing on Capitol Hill, an act that qualified as “disruption of Congress,” Sassower was hit with six months’ incarceration—the maximum allowed by law. Despite the grave constitutional implications of her case, not one of the dozen civil rights organizations she’d asked for help came to her assistance: not the ACLU, not Public Citizen, not People for the American Way, not Common Cause.

Her real crime, it seems, was her penchant for being a pest. Reached by the Voice, attorneys from three such organizations refused to comment or spoke only off the record. One attorney privately told the Voice that his group’s unwillingness to lend Sassower a hand had “nothing to do with the merits of her claims” and “everything to do with her being a very difficult person.” Sassower ended up acting as her own lawyer, doing herself no favors in the trial.

Full Article and Source:
The Scourge of Her Conviction

>Futile Care Law

May 15, 2009

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Those who want to extend the time some hospital patients may live before their life support is cut off are worried that their proposal is running into a wall at the Capitol.

Legislation by state Rep. Bryan Hughes would require life-sustaining treatment to continue for patients whose condition is deemed futile by doctors until a transfer to another medical facility can be arranged, if their family requests it.

Currently, hospitals can stop life support after 10 days in certain cases if the patient is terminally or irreversibly ill and cannot express treatment wishes.

Hughes: “No other state in the country has a law that Draconian. The balance of power is completely shifted against the patients and the families.”

Hughes’ bill is being pushed by Texas Right to Life and groups for the disabled, including the Coalition of Texans With Disabilities and Not Dead Yet of Texas, also back Hughes’ proposal, as does the American Civil Liberties Union.

Full Article and Source:
Texas legislators fighting futile-care law fear roadblock

More information:
Patients’ Rights Bill Stalled in Texas – Bill Backed by Disability Advocates, Right to Life and ACLU

Texas Lawmakers See Competing Bills to Scrap, Defend 10-Day Futile Care Law

Futile Care Law

May 15, 2009
Those who want to extend the time some hospital patients may live before their life support is cut off are worried that their proposal is running into a wall at the Capitol.

Legislation by state Rep. Bryan Hughes would require life-sustaining treatment to continue for patients whose condition is deemed futile by doctors until a transfer to another medical facility can be arranged, if their family requests it.

Currently, hospitals can stop life support after 10 days in certain cases if the patient is terminally or irreversibly ill and cannot express treatment wishes.

Hughes: “No other state in the country has a law that Draconian. The balance of power is completely shifted against the patients and the families.”

Hughes’ bill is being pushed by Texas Right to Life and groups for the disabled, including the Coalition of Texans With Disabilities and Not Dead Yet of Texas, also back Hughes’ proposal, as does the American Civil Liberties Union.

Full Article and Source:
Texas legislators fighting futile-care law fear roadblock

More information:
Patients’ Rights Bill Stalled in Texas – Bill Backed by Disability Advocates, Right to Life and ACLU

Texas Lawmakers See Competing Bills to Scrap, Defend 10-Day Futile Care Law

Adoption Ban Trial

March 26, 2009
A lawsuit seeking to undo Arkansas’ voter-approved law limiting access to adoption and foster care survived its first challenge when a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled the case should go to trial.

But Judge Chris Piazza did side with state attorneys in throwing out one part of the 11-point lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union – a challenge to the title of the ballot initiative that became Initiated Act 1 of 2008 by attracting 57 percent of the vote in the November election. The ACLU, representing 24 adults and children, is seeking to overturn the law, which bars cohabiting unmarried adults from fostering or adopting children, claiming the measure is unconstitutional.

Byron Babione, an Arizona attorney representing Family Council Action Committee, the conservative Christian political action committee that championed the law, Cordi contended that the ACLU was trying to fabricate a constitutional right that doesn’t exist, a right by children to be adopted or placed in foster care. Adoption and foster care law arises from state statute, not the Arkansas or U.S. constitutions, they argued.

Babione: “There’s no deep-rooted right in this nation’s laws or history to adopt or foster.”

Full Article and Source:
Trial on adoption ban approved

See also:
Halted Efforts

Act One Under Fire