ACLU

‘No F*cking Way!’: Lewis Black Blasts Voter ID Laws in ACLU Video

screen grab

Mediaite

Appearing in a new ACLU video released Thursday, comedian Lewis Black hilariously rails against voter ID laws and efforts to limit early voting. Upon learning what the ACLU’s voting rights project is attempting to combat nationwide, Black cannot contain himself.

“I mean, who is denying people the right to vote?” Black asked ACLU’s Voting Rights Project DirectorDale Ho during what was staged as a behind-the-scenes photo shoot.

“You’d be surprised,” Ho responded, citing states like North Carolina and Wisconsin which he says have made it harder for its citizens to vote.

Black, who agreed to be the ACLU’s new voting rights ambassador, is surprised to learn that politicians are cutting back on early voting periods.

“What’s next, a poll tax?” Black asked. “Well…” Ho responded. “Oh, no f*cking way!” Black interjected.

“Look, people marched and fought and died for the right to vote, and they want to legislate away that sacrifice to stay in power? Not on my watch, baby,” Black said in his usual tone.

Watch the hilarious, definitely-not-staged video below, via YouTube:

Supreme Court Inaction Boosts Right To Record Police Officers

Score another one for democracy…

The Huffington Post

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court  declined to review a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the enforcement of an Illinois eavesdropping law. The broadly written law — the most stringent in the country — makes it a felony to make an audio recording of someone without their permission, punishable by four to 15 years in prison.

Many states have similar “all-party consent” law, which mean one must get the permission of all parties to a conversation before recording it. But in all of those states — except for Massachusetts and Illinois — the laws include a provision that the parties being recorded must have a reasonable expectation of privacy for it to be a crime to record them.

The Illinois law once included such a provision, but it was removed by the state legislature in response to an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that threw out the conviction of a man accused of recording police from the back of a squad car. That ruling found that police on the job have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Illinois and Massachusetts laws have been used to arrest people who attempt to record on-duty police officers and other public officials. In one of the more notorious cases, Chicago resident Tiawanda Moore was arrested in 2010 when she attempted to use her cell phone to record officers in a Chicago police station.

Moore had come to the station to report an alleged sexual assault by a Chicago cop, and says she became frustrated when internal affairs officers allegedly bullied her and attempted to talk her out of filing the report. Moore was eventually acquitted.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is planning a police accountability project in Chicago that will involve recording police while they’re on duty. The organization wanted to be sure its employees and volunteers wouldn’t be charged with felonies.

The 7th Circuit Court found a specific First Amendment right to record police officers. It’s the second federal appeals court to strike down a conviction for recording police. In August 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that a man wrongly arrested for recording cops could sue the arresting officers for violating his First Amendment rights.

Continue reading here…

This week in the War on Voting: South Dakota’s shameful legacy continues

Daily Kos

The ACLU highlights just one story from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, one story that demonstrates the plight of hundreds of voters in the state.

South Dakota is trying to prevent Eileen Janis — and hundreds of other citizens — from voting.
Eileen grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and does suicide prevention work. She registered to vote for the first time in 1984. “I always vote because my mom told me to,” she says.But when she went to cast her ballot in the historic 2008 election, she found that she had been illegally removed from the voter rolls. Though she had been convicted of a felony, her sentence to probation meant that she had not lost the right to cast a ballot. “I went [to vote] with my son who had just turned 18. As soon as I tried to vote I was told no because I was a felon.”

South Dakota has a long and shameful history of disenfranchising Native Americans, so Ms. Janis’s story is far from unique. The ACLU sued on behalf of Janis and other disenfranchised South Dakotans and won. Which, of course, isn’t the end of the story. Here at Daily Kos, robbinsdale radical alerted us to the South Dakota legislature’s efforts to deny the franchise to those with criminal convictions, even those who were never sentenced to jail time. Native Americans are disproportionately represented in the South Dakota criminal system, and this effort would hit them particularly hard.

The ACLU tells how to take action:

Tell the DOJ to protect the right to vote in South Dakota and across the nation. Andurge Congress to pass the Democracy Restoration Act, which would let Eileen—and all Americans with past convictions who are living in their communities—vote in federal elections.