By: Christopher Baker, Rights On! (1:374/14) To: All, Star Tech III (1:218/801) Re: notes

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By: Christopher Baker, Rights On! (1:374/14) To: All, Star Tech III (1:218/801) Re: notes from the ACLU News feed on Internet Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 13:21:09 GMT From: ACLU.Newsfeed-Owner To: Subject: ACLU News 04-17-96: Terrorism, Wiretap, Gay Student Clubs... Sender: ---------------------------------------------------------------- 04-17-96 ACLU Newsfeed -- ACLU News Releases Direct to YOU ---------------------------------------------------------------- TODAY'S NEWS: * ACLU Alerts House That Significant Wiretap Provisions Remain in Conference Report on Terrorism Legislation * Utah Lawmakers Vote Today to Single Out Gay Student Clubs; ACLU Vows to Challenge Restrictions in Court * Judge Rules State Prisoner Cannot Be Force-Fed * Wrongly Accused Oklahoma City Suspect Rejects Government's Token Settlement Offer * Student Suspended for Saying "Christ" * Congress May Strip Federal Judges of Their Power * NYCLU to File Suit in Death Penalty Controversy * Catholic Cardinals Criticize Clinton Veto ---------------------------------------------------------------- *ACLU Alerts House That Significant Wiretap Provisions* *Remain in Conference Report on Terrorism Legislation* WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union today alerted members of the House of Representatives that significant wiretap provisions remain in the terrorism legislation now making its way through Congress. Despite assurances to the contrary by House and Senate leadership, the ACLU said that the current conference version of the terrorism bill includes two significant expansions of wiretap powers for government law enforcement agents while also removing prohibitions on eavesdropping by private parties. In their desire to hide the wiretap provisions from concerned members of the House, the conference leaders went to such extremes as to subtly change wording in the conference report, the ACLU said. Section 731 of the House Bill, for example, was titled "Exclusion of Certain Types of Information from Wiretap-Related Definitions." While the conference committee deleted the words "wiretap-related," it left the wiretap provisions unchanged, the ACLU said. The ACLU also pointed to another provision deeply buried in the conference report that would require banks to freeze assets of domestic groups and U.S. citizens if there is any reason, however vague, to believe that the organization or individual is an "agent" of a designated foreign terrorist organization. In addition, the ACLU said that the terrorism conference report includes yet another provision added at the last minute that would federalize state law to an even greater extent than either version of the corresponding sections of the House and Senate bills sent to conference. "Taken together, these provisions should cause members of the House to have deep concerns about the terrorism bill as they face a final vote," said Gregory T. Nojeim, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Dangerous and largely hidden changes have been made in this bill. We ask that members of the House vote against this legislation to protect our nation's liberties well into the next century. "This bill," Nojeim added, "would do nothing to make safer, but would, in effect, add the Bill of Rights and our nation's liberty to the list of casualties of the tragic bombing in Oklahoma City." ---------------------------------------------------------------- *Utah Lawmakers Vote Today to Single Out Gay Student Clubs* *ACLU Vows to Challenge Restrictions in Court* SALT LAKE CITY -- Seeking to sidestep a federal law guaranteeing equal access in the schools, Utah lawmakers will hold a special legislative session today to vote on a controversial bill aimed at restricting lesbian and gay student clubs while allowing all other extracurricular clubs to meet. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been lobbying heavily against the bill, says the measure is in clear violation of the Equal Access Act of 1984, and vowed to challenge the legislation the moment the law is enforced. "This law flies in the face of federal law, not to mention the mission of schools to help all students learn and grow," said Carol Gnade, Executive Director of the ACLU of Utah. "In its cruel efforts to single out lesbian and gay youth for discrimination, the legislature has slapped together a bill that violates the First Amendment rights of every person affiliated with a Utah high school." Gov. Mike Leavitt and legislative leaders emerged late Tuesday with a proposal that would allow school districts to ban clubs that promote "bigotry, encourage criminal behavior or involve human sexuality," and require students to get parental consent before joining any club. The controversy began in February when the Salt Lake City school board, citing the federal equal access law, voted to ban all student clubs rather than allow a gay and straight alliance club at the East Side High School to form. Ironically, the law was originally drafted to give Bible-study groups access to school facilities for extracurricular activities, and was supported by Utah Senator Orin Hatch, a conservative Republican. After the school board vote, state lawmakers seized the issue and began holding closed-door meetings to craft legislation that would allow the Salt Lake City school board to lift its blanket ban on all student groups, while maintaining restrictions just on gay groups. "Their thinly-veiled attempt to single out gay youth is not fooling anybody," Gnade said. "But in their rush to sidestep the equal access law, the lawmakers have thrown together a proposal so broad, even the Utah legislature could be barred from forming a group if they were in high school." ---------------------------------------------------------------- *Judge Rules State Prisoner Cannot Be Force-Fed* DETROIT -- An Ingham County Judge ruled today that the state may not force a prisoner to accept unwanted medical treatment or nutrition. Judge William Collette ruled from the bench in the case of 47-year-old Michael Anderson, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. "This is a victory for the right of competent adults to have the most basic of all rights - the right to privacy and bodily integrity," said ACLU of Michigan Legal Director Paul Denenfeld, who argued the case before Judge Collette. "Anderson simply wants the right to be let alone." Anderson stopped injecting himself with insulin for his Type II diabetes, and stopped eating in December of 1995. He was taken to a prison hospital, where intravenous feedings were administered against his will. Blood samples were also taken without his consent. In early March, he began to eat small amounts of food under threat of having a naso-gastric tube inserted through his nostrils and down into his stomach for the purpose of force-feeding him. He has been transferred back to the Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan. Anderson is serving a life term for first degree murder, and has been incarcerated since 1975. He has been rebuffed at all stages of the appeals process; the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal in 1980, although Justice Charles Levin wrote that he would have granted an appeal based on incompetence of legal representation at trial. His current appellate counsel is not hopeful that the courts will order a new trial. ---------------------------------------------------------------- *Wrongly Accused Oklahoma City Suspect* * Rejects Government's Token Settlement Offer* WASHINGTON -- A Jordanian-American who was wrongly detained one year ago for the Oklahoma City bombing today rejected a token settlement offer by the Justice Department, saying the government is failing to take his claims seriously. The settlement offer came in response to a federal tort claim filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that charged that Abraham Ahmad was unlawfully detained and interrogated for three days without any evidence and that his name was leaked to the press as a suspect in the bombing. In a letter delivered earlier this week, the government denied any liability for its mistreatment of Mr. Ahmad, acknowledging only that he and his family "experienced considerable inconvenience and embarrassment." "Instead of facing responsibility for the grievous harm done to the Ahmad family, the government's offer only adds insult to injury," said Louis Bograd, an attorney with the ACLU's National Legal Department. "The $10,000 settlement doesn't even cover half the medical expenses -- let alone the pain and suffering -- incurred by the Ahmad family as a result of the government's actions." Mr. Ahmad, a 32-year-old American citizen and a 13-year resident of Oklahoma, was traveling to Jordan to attend to a family emergency and visit relatives. By coincidence, he boarded a plane on April 19, 1995, the same day the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed. Based on those facts alone, federal agents detained Ahmad from April 19 to 21 as a bombing suspect in Chicago, Virginia, London, and Oklahoma City. During that time, federal agents also interrogated his wife and two daughters, and leaked his name to the press, leading a horde of reporters and angry neighbors to camp outside his home. "I believe the government should follow every lead to track down a terrorist," said Mr. Ahmad, who still lives in Oklahoma City. "But this must be based on fact and not on stereotypes. My detention and mistreatment did not just humiliate me and my family, but the entire Arab and Muslim American community as well." ---------------------------------------------------------------- *Student Suspended for Saying "Christ"* CINCINNATI, April 17 - A hearing officer Wednesday upheld the suspension of a high school student who cursed in class even though the boy's mother said his constitutional rights were violated, Reuters reports. Jeremy Goodman, 16, a freshman at Williamsburg High School in Clermont County, was suspended for two days for violating a ban against cursing after saying "Jesus Christ!" in class. His mother, Karen Goodman, said after the school district hearing that she would seek help from the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge the suspension, which ended Wednesday. Describing herself as a non-Christian, she told the hearing officer: "We do not consider saying 'Jesus Christ' any more of a curse word than saying 'red sneakers'.'' Her son told a reporter that he uttered the words with his back to a teacher after she ordered him to return to his desk in a health class. "When they took me to the principal's office, he told me I had taken the Lord's name in vain and I could go to hell for it,'' the boy said. Scott Greenwood, a frequent spokesman for Cincinnati civil liberties causes, said he considered the suspension "a gross violation'' of the youth's free speech rights. "I think it's perverse to the extreme that while there is a movement to push mandatory, teacher-led prayer in school, here we have a school that considers the words 'Jesus Christ' inappropriate and a reason to discipline,'' Greenwood said. School Superintendent Barry Campbell said the principal probably should have found another reason, such as disrupting the classroom, for the suspension. ---------------------------------------------------------------- *Congress May Strip Federal Judges of Their Power* With little fanfare, The Los Angeles Times reported this week, Congress is poised to approve a fundamental change in the Habeas Corpus Act and to strip federal judges of most of their power to review state court actions. The pending anti-terrorism laws, the Times said, would make four major changes to limit federal appeals, including prohibiting federal judges from reversing a state conviction or death sentence unless it resulted from "an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law." The Times said that "dejected civil libertarians" and defense lawyers say Congress is about to strip away the legal safeguards that prevent the execution of possibly innocent persons. Commenting on the legislation, Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU National Washington Office, said it "would tear at the fabric of our society and make us no safer, just less free." ---------------------------------------------------------------- *NYCLU to File Suit in Death Penalty Controversy* NEW YORK -- State Attorney General Dennis Vacco said today that he had "strong grounds" for seeking the death penalty for the Bronx man charged in the shooting death of police officer Kevin Gillespie, The New York Times reported today. The man, Angel Diaz, was indicted yesterday on first-degree murder charges. The Attorney General was assigned the case by Governor George Pataki when Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson refused to commit to pursuing capital punishment in the case, saying instead, in a letter to the governor, that he promised to "weight the facts" in the case. Mr. Johnson and the New York Civil Liberties Union are both expected to sue Governor Pataki this week, asserting that he exceeded his authority in removing the Bronx D.A. from the case. At issue is more than a simple argument over which man should argue the case before a Bronx jury. Legal experts say the lawsuits will likely offer a judge the opportunity to assess the breadth of the governor's power, the limits of the prosecutor's discretion and the extent of the voters' rights to be represented by the politician of their choice. Norman Siegel, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that his suit would argue that the governor does not have the right to remove a prosecutor when "there was no corruption, no conflict of interest and no knowing and willing violation of a substantial legal mandate." Mr. Siegel also said that his suit would argue that Bronx voters, who re-elected Mr. Johnson while well aware of his reluctance to impose the death penalty, had been disenfranchised by the governor's action. ---------------------------------------------------------------- *Catholic Cardinals Criticize Clinton Veto* The ACLU continues to defend President Clinton's veto of the so-called "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act" in light of renewed pressures by the Catholic community. According to The New York Times, the eight Roman Catholic cardinals that preside in the United States, as well as the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a three-page letter to President Clinton condemning him for rejecting Congress' bill criminalizing a particular type of late term pregnancy abortion. In the letter, Catholic leaders promise to educate American Catholics about "partial-birth abortions" and incite anger among them, reminding the President that ending abortion remains a top priority with Catholic voters. Understanding that the procedure in question, professionally known as an intact D&E, is performed rarely and in dire circumstances, President Clinton vetoed the controversial bill last Wednesday. The ACLU praised his decision, claiming that the bill would have represented "a severe threat to all women's reproductive rights." "The bill is flagrantly unconstitutional," said Janet Gallagher, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "This veto put a stop to a cruel, ideologically driven bill that was a first step toward making all abortions illegal." ---------------------------------------------------------------- ONLINE RESOURCES FROM THE ACLU NATIONAL OFFICE ---------------------------------------------------------------- ACLU Freedom Network Web Page: America Online users should check out our live chats, auditorium events, *very* active message boards, and complete news on civil liberties, at keyword ACLU. ---------------------------------------------------------------- ACLU Newsfeed American Civil Liberties Union National Office 132 West 43rd Street New York, New York 10036 To subscribe to the ACLU Newsfeed, send a message to with "subscribe News" in the body of the message. To terminate your subscription, send a message to with "unsubscribe News" in the body of the message. For general information about the ACLU, write to ---------------------------------------------------------------- This message was sent to the news -30- TTFN. Chris --- GenMsg [0002] ( * Origin: Rights On!-A_THEIST Echo Mod/Host-Titusville_FL_USA (1:374/14)


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