Legislation & Reform - Know My Rights

Legislation & Reform

Movements to reform laws that are unjust, or just plain stupid.

URGENT: Congress To Vote On Harmful Student Drug Law

Nobody should ever be denied an education because they have a drug possession conviction. But that's exactly what will continue to happen if an amendment is passed by Congress today or tomorrow. Your help is needed, RIGHT NOW, to keep students in school!

Read more: URGENT: Congress To Vote On Harmful...

ACLU Addresses Sex Offender Crisis In Miami

As you know, the ACLU never shies from controversial topics, especially if no one else is willing to tackle them. We have taken a classically principled ACLU stance now that Miami-Dade County's so-called "get tough" residency restriction for released sex offenders has produced unintended consequences -- namely the creation of an ever-growing shantytown under a bridge in the middle of Biscayne Bay connecting downtown Miami to Miami Beach.

Read more: ACLU Addresses Sex Offender Crisis In Miami

Alien Abduction: My Anti-Drug Or Wasteful Government Spending

The strangest thing happened to me the other day. I was sitting on a park bench with my girlfriend enjoying some marijuana. While I knew she disapproved, I went ahead and smoked a joint anyway. Next thing I knew, a flying saucer descended from the sky and we were visited by a space alien! Not wanting to seem ungracious, I offered our new friend a puff of my joint...

Read more: Alien Abduction: My Anti-Drug Or Wasteful...

Drug War Allies: Russia, Cuba, Pakistan, ...USA?

President Obama recently announced that his administration would no longer allow ideology to trump science in policy-making decisions. Yet, the very same week, the Obama administration publicly supported worn out Drug War ideology over harm reduction practices that have been proven to save and improve the lives of drug users.

Read more: Drug War Allies: Russia, Cuba, Pakistan,...

Lilly Ledbetter Watched As Obama Signed Fair Pay Act

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act struck a powerful blow for justice not just for Lilly, but for anyone who has been victimized by wage discrimination. This legislation righted a wrong perpetrated by the Supreme Court in its horrendous 2007 Ledbetter v. Goodyear decision.

Read more: Lilly Ledbetter Watched As Obama Signed...

Equal Work, Equal Pay

The new Congress is only days old, but already we have a great opportunity for equality in the workplace with two critical bills that will come up for a House vote tomorrow, January 9th. H.R. 11 will correct a grave injustice perpetrated by a wrong-headed 2007 Supreme Court decision; and H.R. 12 will put an end to loopholes and weak remedies that have made the Equal Pay Act, a 45 year-old law that was supposed to ensure equal pay for women, less effective than it should be in combating wage discrimination.

Read more: Equal Work, Equal Pay

Sentencing Discrimination

S. 1711/H.R. 4545, the Drug Sentencing Reform and Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act of 2007 introduced by Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Representative Shelia Jackson-Lee (D-TX) would eliminate the current disparity in federal sentences for crack versus powder cocaine offenses. The 100 to 1 disparity has had a grossly disproportionate impact on African-Americans. For example...

Read more: Sentencing Discrimination

Prisoners' Due Process

In 1996 Congress passed the little known Prison Litigation Reform Act, effectively slamming shut the courthouse doors on prisoners seeking a fair hearing on violations of their religious, due process, free speech and other fundamental constitutional rights, as well as cases of serious physical and sexual abuse. This failure of due process can be corrected by H.R. 4109, the Prison Abuse Remedies Act of 2007.

Read more: Prisoners' Due Process

ACLU Lends Hand In 'Healthy Teens' Florida

The Healthy Teens Campaign is a group of organizations and individuals in Florida seeking statewide legislation that promotes a comprehensive approach to sex education in Florida's schools. Parents have recently raised concerns that the abstinence-only curriculum currently in place in Seminole County schools censors vital health information and contains medically inaccurate information.

Read more: ACLU Lends Hand In 'Healthy Teens' Florida

Fla. Prop. 2 Is Temporary

The vote approving Amendment 2 -- and the votes in Arizona and California -- was a devastating but temporary setback for the cause of equal treatment for all. On Election Day, voters rejected abortion restrictions in South Dakota and, in Colorado, a bizarre measure to declare a fertilized egg a "person." Michigan voters approved medical marijuana and stem cell research; in Washington voters approved "Death with Dignity" legislation. But in Florida, by a 1.9% margin, voters prohibited allowing same-sex couples the opportunity to have their relationship legally protected, denying the religious institution of their choice the authority of law "invested in the institution" to bless the relationship.

Read more: Fla. Prop. 2 Is Temporary

Record Number Of Marijuana Arrests

Police arrested a record 872,721 persons for marijuana violations in 2007, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. This is the largest total number of annual arrests for cannabis ever recorded by the FBI. Cannabis arrests now comprise nearly 47.5 percent of all drug arrests in the United States. "These numbers belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor cannabis offenders," said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre.

Read more: Record Number Of Marijuana Arrests

The Drug War Against Our Children

The war on pot is a war on young people. Young people, in many cases those under 18 years of age, disproportionately bear the brunt of marijuana law enforcement. 74% of all Americans busted for pot are under 30 -- it's long past time for young people to join ranks and help end this drug war.

Read more: The Drug War Against Our Children

Protect Florida Students From Bullying

During the 2008 session, the Florida Legislature passed the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, which requires all Florida school districts to adopt a policy that complies with new state law requirements by December 1, 2008. Many school districts are already in the process of crafting and passing their new policies. We need you to urge your school district to adopt an anti-bullying policy that:

Read more: Protect Florida Students From Bullying

Another Casualty Of The 'War On Drugs'

Pardon the pun, but I'm going to be blunt... Marijuana is relatively harmless. Its most devastating effects unquestionably result not from its consumption, but rather from the legal ramifications imposed on those who use it. No one has ever died from cannabis, but people have had their lives ruined, and some were even killed, by marijuana laws. What's the difference between a drunk driver and a stoned driver? The drunk driver runs the stop sign . . . The stoned driver comes to a complete stop, and waits for it to turn green.

Read more: Another Casualty Of The 'War On Drugs'

Florida Grapples With Immigration Issues

America is a nation of immigrants. And America is better off when we try to integrate our recent immigrants so they can begin their journey on the path to citizenship, learn English and contribute fully to our society, not the least of which is by paying taxes. Unfortunately some people have a different strategy. Some politicians and media talking heads would rather grandstand and pretend that it might be possible to round up and deport the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants residing in America. Others prefer to force hospitals to deny healthcare and force landlords to deny housing to undocumented immigrants, making life so miserable for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the shadows that they will leave. This will not solve the immigration problems that face America, but will only create more problems for our society.

Read more: Florida Grapples With Immigration Issues

Got Travel Plans? Leave The 4th Amendment At The Gate

Planning a vacation? Thinking about traveling outside the country? If you travel outside the United States, you can kiss your right to privacy, and perhaps your laptop, digital camera and cell phone, goodbye. With no suspicion and no explanation, the U.S. government can seize your laptop, cell phone or PDA as you enter the United States and download all your private information -- including your personal and business documents, emails, phone calls and web history. The Department of Homeland Security confirms that this is the official policy.

Read more: Got Travel Plans? Leave The 4th Amendment...

SSDP Goes Global

The student movement to end the War on Drugs has truly gone global. Two years ago, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy appeared on the scene and immediately began influencing policy discussions in Ottawa. Late last year, SSDP chapters sprung up in Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Earlier this year, United Kingdom Students for Sensible Drug Policy began forming a network of chapters in Europe. And last month, I attended a United Nations forum in Vienna, Austria representing one of only 25 U.S. organizations invited to join hundreds of other international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) charged with recommending changes in global drug policy. Believe it or not, despite the wide range of organizations present, all groups came to a consensus on recommendations that are forward thinking and grounded in reality, not dogma.

Read more: SSDP Goes Global

Congress Failed Us In HEA Reauthorization

Congress failed us. Despite a decade-long campaign by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, supporters like you and a large and powerful coalition of more than 500 prominent organizations, Congress finally reauthorized the Higher Education Act (HEA) last week but chose to ignore our demands that they overturn the provision that strips financial aid from college students with drug convictions.

Read more: Congress Failed Us In HEA Reauthorization

School Vouchers: Florida Propositions #7 & #9

You may remember that last week we told you that proposed constitutional amendments 7 and 9 on the November ballot must be viewed in concert in order to understand the magnitude of the radical change that is afoot. You will hear a lot over the next few months about the phony "65% measure" that will supposedly ensure that more dollars make it to the classroom, but that's just the sugar to help you swallow the poison: private/parochial school vouchers.

Read more: School Vouchers: Florida Propositions #7 & #9

Vote No On 2

November is fast approaching and Floridians are facing sweeping attacks on their civil liberties and human rights. We have never faced such a far-reaching collection of proposed constitutional amendments. One threatens to take away basic rights of both straight and gay unmarried couples (proposed Amendment #2) and two others (Amendments #7 & #9) would eliminate Florida's strong commitment to separation of church & state and religious freedom language, and require government funding of religious programs.

Read more: Vote No On 2

Why Every School Should Have A 'Good Samaritan' Policy

ACT NOW: Ask your state legislators to enact a life-saving Good Samaritan Policy. Twenty-two years ago, the tragic overdose death of a rising basketball star sparked a reactionary scare across the United States, resulting in the creation of the most destructive drug policies to date. But this does not need to be his legacy. A Good Samaritan Policy could have saved Len Bias's life.

Read more: Why Every School Should Have A 'Good...