Posts tagged American Civil Liberties Union
The Supreme Court will today heart oral arguments in Salinas v. Texas. This case will address an enormous outstanding question on Fifth Amendment rights. We all know that someone accused of a crime in American is allowed to remain silent both during questioning after being arrested, and at trial. The question is, do the same rights against self-incrimination apply before an arrest and an accusation is made? As was asked in a 1980 decision, the Court has not yet ruled on “whether or under what circumstances pre-arrest silence” while being questioned by law enforcement is entitled to protection.
The question before the Court is pretty straightforward:
Whether or under what circumstances the Fifth Amendment’s Self-Incrimination Clause protects a defendant’s refusal to answer law enforcement questioning before he has been arrested or read his Miranda rights.
How far can police go in obtaining evidence without permission? There are some instances (called “exigent circumstances”) in which the law holds that Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the need for a search warrant, are commonly suspended. The limits of this idea will be tested in the Supreme Court today.
The case of Missouri v. McNeely asks whether a law enforcement officer may obtain a nonconsensual and warrantless blood sample from someone suspected of driving while intoxicated, under the argument that waiting the time needed to obtain a warrant would allow “the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream.” This, argues the State of Missouri, provides “exigent circumstances” which permit the State to override the driver’s Fourth Amendment rights. (more…)
A little over a week ago, I wrote about Florida’s importance in the upcoming election, and the efforts of the Republican governor there to disenfranchise Floridians who are likely to vote Democratic. There have been further developments in the story.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit in an effort to block Governor Rick Scott’s attempt to purge minorities from the voter rolls. In response, Governor Scott announced his intent to sue the Department of Homeland Security to gain access to a database he says will assist his efforts.
Governor Scott’s controversial program is intended, he says, to ensure that non-citizens in Florida don’t vote. The state is matching information on driver’s licenses (which often includes citizenship status) against lists of registered voters. Over 2,600 letters were sent — 87 percent to African-Americans and Hispanics — informing selected voters that they would be dropped from the voting rolls unless they could prove their citizenship within thirty days. Many of the people indicated as non-citizens on their licenses have since become citizens, and simply not altered their records. In Miami-Dade County, forty of those receiving notice have been shown to be non-citizens. More than five hundred have already supplied proof of citizenship, providing (so far) more than a ten-to-one ratio of false positives. (more…)
The United States did it. President George W. Bush knew about it. And he lied about it to all of us.
This is all information that can be gleaned by the roughly 140,000 formerly classified documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) via Freedom of Information Act requests. ACLU researcher Larry Siems then got the unenviable task of reading through all of those documents.
It took him two years.
As part of the project, he started The Torture Report, a website devoted to the research. More recently, with the completion of his research, he published The Torture Report: What the Documents say about America’s Post 9⁄11 Torture Program.
Here are some of the lowlights contained in the mountain of documents. (more…)
Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether employees of private prison operators can be sued for violating the constitutional rights of inmates. It is clear that the government and its representatives must not violate the rights of prison inmates, and can be sued if they do. Does this extend also to the employees of private contractors?
Five employees of a company that runs a federal prison in Taft, California — Margaret Minneci, Jonathan E. Akanno, Robert Spack, Bob D. Stiefer and Becky Maness — are asking the Supreme Court to reconsider an adverse judgement from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The company for which they worked at the time was called Wackenhut Corrections Corporation. It is now part of The GEO Group.
The respondent is Richard Lee Pollard, an inmate at the prison, who originally sued Ms. Minneci et al. for violating his Constitutional rights. He was then serving part of a 20-year sentence for drug trafficking and firearms crimes.
Mr. Pollard claims to have suffered injuries at the hands of Ms. Minneci and other employees of GEO, in violation of Constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. But employees of a private contractors are not employees of the government. Does this relieve them of the burden of following the Constitution? (more…)