ACLU Week in Review

By Ben Bowens, Communications Associate, ACLU of Pennsylvania

Mumia Abu-Jamal, Daniel Faulkner

Mumia Abu-Jamal, right, is an inmate at a Pa. state prison for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, left. (File photos/Pennlive)

This was a busy week for ACLU affiliates across the country with the biggest news coming out of Indiana. On Thursday, the ACLU’s national office issued a response to Indiana’s proposed amendments to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which you can read more about below. As for the Pennsylvania office, we were in federal court on Monday and spent the rest of the week fielding calls about Pennsylvania’s own religious freedom law. Here’s a quick look at some of the ACLU involved stories that made headlines this week.

Reaction to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)

ACLU Statement on Proposed Amendments to Indiana RFRA

The events in Indiana over the last week represent a dramatic change in the way our country reacts to discrimination hiding under the guise of religion.

The Indiana legislature and the governor made a terrible and dangerous mistake, and they were met with widespread condemnation and a backlash that has hurt their state’s reputation and its economy. read more…

ACLU hosts panel discussion to clarify ‘religious freedom’ law

While Republicans work to the clarify the law, the Indiana ACLU gathered a panel of community leaders for a discussion to help explain the law’s intent. However, it also gave the public the chance to ask whether they thought the law would allow for discrimination. read more…

Pennsylvania has a religious freedom law too, but not like Indiana’s

Religious freedoms laws have traditionally been used to keep governments from violating people’s religious beliefs, according to Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

Those laws have never been created so that entities could have permission from the government to discriminate, she said. read more…

Pennsylvania’s “Revictimization Act”

Oral arguments in our lawsuit challenging the “Revictimization Relief Act” were heard in Federal Court

A new state law designed to ensure that crime victims aren’t “revictimized” is actually an unconstitutional attack on free speech, opponents of the legislation argued to a federal judge Monday. read more…

Centre County Officials Square Off Over Text Messages

Stage is Set for Courtroom Showdown With Centre County Officials Fighting Each Other

The three lawsuits stem from several criminal cases in recent months in which defense attorneys used records of text messages between judges and prosecutors (obtained through the county through Right to Know requests) to allege bias and preferential treatment in favor of the DA’s office. read more…

TSA vs. Black Women’s Hair

ACLU Attorney Finalizes Agreement With TSA To Track Hair Searches, Assess Possible Racial Discrimination

Accusations of racially selective airport searches by the Transportation Security Administration have prompted officials to deem the practice discriminatory. This comes years after Solange Knowles spoke out about her own experience with airport “Discrim-FRO-nation” on Twitter but it appears as though black women are still receiving routine hair searches. read more…

License Plate Readers

Lawmaker, ACLU want limits on police license plate readers

Conservative Republican state Rep. Peter Breen has introduced legislation that would put a 30-day limit on data collected by license plate readers. He has the backing of the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union, a group he fought unsuccessfully in court over the gay marriage issue. read more…