In the decades since, these units have spread nationwide, contributing to a startling militarization of local police agencies. The American Civil Liberties Union now raises troubling questions about the blurred lines that come with arming and training domestic law enforcement officers as though they are an extension of the U.S. military.
In a report released this week, the ACLU analyzed more than 800 incident reports from 20 police agencies in 2011-12 and found that eight of 10 SWAT deployments were not to confront barricaded suspects or to negotiate the release of hostages but rather to serve search warrants, primarily in drug cases. Two-thirds of the deployments involved breaking down doors, and many included tossing flash-bang grenades and rousting occupants at gunpoint.
The ACLU study looked at a tiny fraction of police agencies, so its conclusions should be treated with caution. Still, the routine use of SWAT units to serve warrants has been documented elsewhere and constitutes a worrisome example of mission creep: If police departments have the units, they tend to use them, even in scenarios for which they were not initially envisioned. Militarized teams were deployed about 3,000 times a year in the 1980s; by the mid-2000s, annual deployments reached 45,000.
The National Review Online published a string of blog posts featuring sexist, hypocritical, and flawed attacks on Georgetown law professor and Supreme Court litigator Cornelia T.L. Pillard, President Obama’s nominee to the critical U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Right-wing media have repeatedly attempted to rally GOP filibusters against the president’s nominees to three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit, the appellate court considered the second-most important in the nation and currently skewed to the right. NRO recently joined the attack with the first personal smear, prefaced with the “damning assessment” that an unnamed source claims Pillard is “[liberal Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen] Reinhardt in a skirt but less moderate.”
Obama has nominated three highly-qualified picks to fill these seats and offset the conservative imbalance of the D.C. Circuit’s complement of active and senior judges. One of these choices is Pillard, graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, veteran of the Clinton administration, and former employee of both the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She also is an accomplished Supreme Court litigator in sex equality law (also referred to as gender equality law) and a contributor to the successful arguments in United States v. Virginia, which opened the doors of the Virginia Military Institute to women by firmly establishing the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies heightened scrutiny to sex discrimination.
In short, a liberal president nominated an extremely accomplished liberal to the D.C. Circuit.
NRO has responded with four posts that criticize a 2007 law review article Pillard wrote that argues reproductive rights, such as the constitutional right to an abortion, should be encompassed under equal protection grounds as well. Not only is this a decades-old concept at the root of sex equality doctrine, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made no secret of her support for this idea, even arguing for it in her successful 1993 Senate confirmation hearing.
Notably, the author of the pieces, Ed Whelan, chose an opening for criticizing Pillard that appears to go against his previous defense of then-nominee Justice Samuel Alito. In 2005, Whelan argued that Alito’s past anti-choice writings on reproductive rights should not be used as a barometer for how he would rule on abortion as a justice.
The Refugees from the Jim Crow South were given Safe(r) Haven in the Norht until… . . the metastisizing cancer of the modern GOP showed up there as well.
Pennsylvania’s voter identification law, one of the strictest in the nation, was back before a court on Monday in a case that opponents hope will end once and for all requirements that were suspended by a judge a few weeks before last year’s presidential election.
Michael Rubin, a Washington lawyer working with the American Civil Liberties Union to oppose the law, said the state had no evidence of fraud and no plan to present any at the trial, which is taking place in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg and is expected to last two weeks.
A spokesman for the state, Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, countered outside the courthouse after opening arguments on Monday, “There is no doubt some form of voter fraud does occur.”
In the largest prison protest in California’s history, nearly 30,000 inmates have gone on hunger strike. Their main grievance: the state’s use of solitary confinement, in which prisoners are held for years or decades with almost no social contact and the barest of sensory stimuli.
California holds some 4,500 inmates in solitary confinement, making it emblematic of the United States as a whole: More than 80,000 U.S. prisoners are housed this way, more than in any other democratic nation.
Even as those numbers have swelled, so have the ranks of critics. A series of scathing reports and documentaries — from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International — were released in 2012, and the U.S. Senate held its first-ever hearings on solitary confinement. In May of this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the federal Bureau of Prisons for failing to consider what long-term solitary confinement did to prisoners.
What’s emerged from the reports and testimonies reads like a mix of medieval cruelty and sci-fi dystopia. For 23 hours or more per day, in what’s euphemistically called “administrative segregation” or “special housing,” prisoners are kept in bathroom-sized cells, under fluorescent lights that never shut off. Video surveillance is constant. Social contact is restricted to rare glimpses of other prisoners, encounters with guards, and brief video conferences with friends or family.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane is expected to announce Thursday that her office won’t defend the state in a federal lawsuit that challenges Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage, the Daily News has learned.
Multiple sources confirmed that Kane, who is named along with Gov. Corbett as a defendant in the suit, plans to make the announcement at the National Constitution Center.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit, known as Whitewood v. Corbett, on Tuesday on behalf of 21 state residents. The plaintiffs are 10 couples and one widow who want to marry here, want the state to recognize their out-of-state marriages or want equal protections granted to straight married couples.
The suit was filed in Harrisburg and is believed to be the first federal case on the gay marriage issue since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last month.
Pennsylvania is the sole state in the Northeast without same-sex marriage or a civil-union statute.
THE twin revelations that telecom carriers have been secretly giving the National Security Agency information about Americans’ phone calls, and that the N.S.A. has been capturing e-mail and other private communications from Internet companies as part of a secret program called Prism, have not enraged most Americans. Lulled, perhaps, by the Obama administration’s claims that these “modest encroachments on privacy” were approved by Congress and by federal judges, public opinion quickly migrated from shock to “meh.”
This view is wrong — and not only, or even mainly, because of the privacy issues raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics. The two programs violate both the letter and the spirit of federal law. No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance. Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught.
More: The Criminal N.S.A.
As they famously say read it all.
I realize that this is an opinion piece but it highlights the fact that ALL justifications for these programs are also opinions from the same govt officials who are supposed to be held accountable for the legality of these programs but hid them behind viels of secrecy laws and gallons of public relations, spin and down right propaganda. From what we now know is true and can assume must be true, these programs now need to be tested in a series of courts, in the remaining 3rd branch govt, in order to align or override the opinions from the Executive and Legislative branch in regards to the legaility of these programs.
The last time we were content wtih going along with the opinions from the Executive and Legislative Branches of the US Govt and took thier assurances at face vaue, we got the 2nd Iraq War. If you are a supporter of Obama and let this color your opinion of these programs now he is POTUS, is now responsible for them and has defended them, you are no better than the brainless pathetic wighnut sheep that sit slack jawed in front of their Faux News.
Ala., June 11 (Reuters) - Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday challenging a new Alabama law that tightens restrictions on abortion clinics in the state.
The law, signed by Gov. Robert Bentley in April and set to take effect next month, requires every doctor who performs an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital.
Supporters of the law argue it is intended to make abortions safer and improve patient care. But critics say the law will unnecessarily restrict a woman’s right under the U.S. Constitution to choose to have an abortion.
Filed in Montgomery, the lawsuit said the law will lead to the closure of three out of the state’s five licensed health centers that provide abortions.
“We are in court to protect a woman’s ability to make her own personal, private, health-care decisions,” Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said in a statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Obama administration on Tuesday over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed last week by a former National Security Agency contractor — is illegal and asking a judge to stop it and order the records purged.
The lawsuit could set up an eventual Supreme Court test. It could also focus attention on this disclosure amid the larger heap of top secret surveillance matters revealed by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who came forward Sunday to say he was their source.
The program “gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations,” the complaint says, adding that it “is likely to have a chilling effect on whistle-blowers and others who would otherwise contact” the A.C.L.U. for legal assistance.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the suit.
In the solitary confinement unit of East Mississippi Correctional Facility, it’s common for inmates to set some clothing or an old milk carton on fire to get an officer’s attention when they are in desperate need of a doctor—or if, say, their cell has been flooded by a broken pipe. Otherwise, it might be days before anyone took notice, according to a class-action lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is challenging an Ohio school district for considering a “controversial issues policy” that would require teachers to encourage discussions about creationism and conservative conspiracy theories about U.N. Agenda 21.
Springboro Community City School District’s new curriculum — part of an effort to help students think critically and learn to “identify important issues” — mandates that “[a]ll sides of the issue should be given to the students in a dispassionate manner” to help “students to be taught to think clearly on all matters of importance, and to make decisions in the light of all the material that has been presented or can be researched on the issues.” Controversial issues include:
religion when not used in a historical or factual context, sex education, legalization of drugs, evolution/creation, pro-life/abortion, contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism, politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change, UN Agenda 21 and sustainable development, and any other topic on which opposing points of view have been promulgated by responsible opinion and/or likely to arouse both support and opposition in the community.
Teachers would have to provide equal weight to widely-accepted scientific theories like evolution and right-wing conspiracies advanced by Glenn Beck.