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ACLU Filing Lawusuit Challenging Trump Administration Contraceptive Coverage Rule

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit today against the Trump Administration challenging interim final rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies that would allow nearly all employers (except publicly traded companies) to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraception if the employer has a religious or moral objection.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of members of the ACLU and Service Employee International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW) who are at risk of losing their contraception coverage because of where they work or where they go to school.

Kate Rochat is an ACLU member who is a law student at the University of Notre Dame and who stands to lose her access to contraceptive health care because of the rule. “No woman should ever be denied health care because her employer or university’s religious views are prioritized over her serious medical needs,” said Rochat.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the interim rules violate the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by authorizing and promoting religiously motivated and other discrimination against women seeking reproductive health care. The ACLU is joined by co-counsel Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP as well as the ACLUs of Northern California, Southern California, and San Diego in bringing forward the lawsuit.

The Trump Administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’s religious beliefs,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the federal government cannot authorize discrimination against women in the name of religion or otherwise.”

Dave Regan, the President of SEIU-UHW, said, “With the stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has shamelessly attempted to rip away the rights of untold numbers of women to receive essential healthcare, under the warped facade of ‘religious freedom.’ Apparently, ‘religious freedom’ to this administration is the freedom to allow bosses to make medical decisions for and discriminate against female employees. Women in the workplace need compassionate care, not doors slammed in their faces by their employers.”

This press release is online at : https://www.aclusocal.org/en/press-releases/aclu-filing-lawsuit-challenging-trump-administration-contraceptive-coverage-rule

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Supreme Court Hears Arguments in ACLU Immigration Detention Case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard arguments today in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a case that will decide the fate of thousands of people languishing in immigration prisons without a hearing. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ahilan Arulanantham argued the case.

At issue is the federal government’s practice of locking up immigrants for years without a hearing to determine if imprisonment is warranted. The Department of Homeland Security claims it can hold people indefinitely while they defend their right to remain in the United States. This includes lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, survivors of torture, and others with strong claims to remain. Many of them will ultimately win their deportation cases, but the government forces them to suffer prolonged detention during the court process.

The ACLU challenged the government and won in the lower courts, including a 2015 federal appeals court decision from the Ninth Circuit that required hearings for immigrants once their detention exceeds six months. The government sought review of that decision in the Supreme Court, which first heard the case in 2016. The court ordered the case be reheard.

Following today’s arguments, Arulanantham said:

“Forcing people to languish indefinitely in detention without a hearing as they make their case to remain in the U.S. is cruel and unnecessary. We’re hopeful the Supreme Court, which has long held that the right to a hearing is a bedrock due process requirement, will agree. The rights at stake in this case are as critical as ever given the Trump administration’s pledge to lock up even more people as part of its crackdown on immigrant communities.”

This statement is at: https://www.aclu.org/news/supreme-court-hears-arguments-aclu-immigration-detention-case-0

Watch the video: https://www.facebook.com/aclu/videos/10154781296646813/

Read the blog: https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/deportation-and-due-process/how-bond-hearing-saved-me-deportation

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/jennings-v-rodriguez

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Drug Policy Alliance and ACLU of California Sue City of Fontana Over Ordinance That Conflicts With Rights Granted by California’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Yesterday, the Drug Policy Alliance and ACLU of California filed a lawsuit against the City of Fontana challenging a city ordinance that is in conflict with Proposition 64 (also known as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” or “AUMA”). The challenged ordinance places significant restraints on an adult’s legal right to cultivate marijuana plants at their personal private residence. The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the ordinance because it is preempted by Prop. 64 and violates several state constitutional rights.

On November 8, 2016, the people of California voted in favor of Prop. 64, which allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six marijuana plants at their private residence away from public view. While Prop. 64 allows local governments to regulate indoor personal cultivation, they cannot adopt unreasonable regulations or prohibit anyone from cultivating altogether.

Among other problematic provisions, the ordinance requires residents to register with the city, undergo a criminal background check, open their home to city officials, and pay an expensive fee before obtaining a permit that would allow them to grow marijuana plants in their private home. By the City Council’s own admission, this process is meant to deter its residents from engaging in legal conduct under state law.

“This ordinance is at odds with state law enacted by a majority of the voters in California, in San Bernardino County, and the City of Fontana,” said Joy Haviland, Staff Attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. “Local officials cannot limit or undo what is now legally allowed in California. Prop. 64 allows adults to cultivate for their own personal use in their private homes without unnecessary intrusion from the state.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Mike Harris, a retired Fontana resident, taxpayer and homeowner since 1987 who seeks to cultivate marijuana at his residence.

“The ACLU of California supported Prop. 64, in large part because of our longstanding policy that possessing or cultivating marijuana for personal use should not be a crime,” said Jess Farris, Director of Criminal Justice at the ACLU of Southern California. “The Fontana ordinance – and other similar ordinances around the state – would criminalize the very conduct Prop. 64 legalized, particularly for people who are ineligible to obtain a permit because of their criminal convictions or their lack of funds to obtain a permit or to dedicate an entire room in their home to cultivation.”

Prop. 64 passed with 57 percent voter approval statewide, including a majority of voters in the City of Fontana (53 percent) and the County of San Bernardino (52 percent). The Drug Policy Alliance’s affiliated organization, Drug Policy Action, served as a co-chair of the Prop. 64 campaign committee. ACLU of California endorsed Prop. 64 among other diverse statewide stakeholders such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and other lawmakers, the California Democratic Party, and the California Medical Association.

Link to the release: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2017/06/drug-policy-alliance-and-aclu-california-sue-city-fontana-over-ordinance-conflicts-righ

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