Civil Liberties

On Cesar Chavez Day, Rediscover Cesar Chavez

By Randy Shaw

When California in 2000 became the first of eight states to declare March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day, the goal was to connect the honor with a curriculum that would educate students about Chavez. Yet ten years later, it is clear that young Californians know little about Cesar Chavez, and that those raised outside the West Coast and Southwest know even less. Millions of Americans even think Barack Obama invented the “Yes We Can” rallying cry, unaware of its roots in the UFW’s “Si Se Puede.”(a listener to a recent Talk of the Nation show on NPR told me that host Neal Conan also credited Obama with launching the slogan).

Yes on 8 Campaign's Fishing Expedition: Why We Must Stand Against Their Hatred

Geoff Kors
Equality California

It's happening again: and the Yes on 8 campaign are once again harassing organizations that are working to expand the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In the federal case against Proposition 8, they are requesting tens of thousands of unrelated documents from three organizations that were involved in the No on 8 campaign - Equality California, the Northern California American Civil Liberties Union and Californians Against Eliminating Basic Rights, the organization through which celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg gave to the campaign.

We have been fighting against this request, and we will continue to do so. We are planning to file an appeal. We have to stand up to the opposition's attempts to harass us and pull us away from our mission.

Terrorism’s Exploding Cost

By Clint Reilly

Last month we learned that lax security procedures allowed a terrorist to board a commercial flight bound for Detroit with a bomb sewn into his underwear. Luckily, the device’s detonator failed, sparing the lives of hundreds of passengers.

Nevertheless, the botched plot exacted a heavy economic and psychological toll.

The subsequent national uproar forced President Obama to call for full body scanners at airports and led to severely tightened security precautions at airports around the world. Air travelers reported tortuous delays and federal officials laid plans to spend $1 billion on full-body scanners.

As I watched the president and his White House aides call for even tighter airline security measures, I wondered why the gold plated equipment and elaborate precautions already in place had missed an underwear bomb.

The Revolution Will NOT Be Televised – So Orders the Court!

By Assemblymember Ted Lieu

The goal of the American civil justice system is to seek justice. The Supreme Court’s decision to censor the public broadcast of the historic trial to reverse California’s Proposition 8 amounts to a fear of too much justice. Our courts are not star chambers, where testimony and rulings are made in secret and hidden from the public.  

The Court majority’s rationale that broadcasting this trial will result in “irreparable harm” has no basis in fact.  The Court states that witnesses may suffer harm because they are concerned about possible “harassment” if the public actually found out what they will say under oath. Under that rationale, the Court should seal the transcript of this entire proceeding, not allow any non-witness to attend the proceeding, and block newspapers from reporting on this trial.  

Students Win Settlement in California Free Speech Case

By State Senator Leland Yee

As a result of a legal settlement at a California high school, school administrators are on notice to stop censoring student speech. 

After settling an 18-month legal battle, Fallbrook Union High School District must pay nearly $28,000 as a result of a principal violating the speech rights of student journalists and unfairly retaliating against the high school’s newspaper advisor.  In addition, the Fallbrook administration is obligated to issue letters praising the student journalists as part of the lawsuit settlement.

The Politics of Fear and “Whole-Body-Imaging”

By Zack Kaldveer
Consumer Federation of California

In response to the attempted terror attack on a Northwest flight bound for Detroit the Fear-Industrial-Complex (i.e. Department of Defense, corporate media, talk radio, security technologies industry, Congress, the White House, “the intelligence community”, pundits, weapons/defense contractors, etc.) has kicked into high gear.

"Terror hysteria" has become all the rage again - echoing throughout the corporate media landscape and out of the frothing mouths of politicians desperate to demonstrate just how tough they are (Republicans are literally disgracing themselves, again, and again).

Report Shows 70% of California Public Universities Violate Speech Laws

By State Senator Leland Yee

While serving in the Assembly and the Senate, I have proudly authored a number of laws to protect student speech rights and provide greater transparency at California school campuses. 

AB 2581 (2006) made California the first state in the nation to specifically prohibit censorship of college student press and explicitly granted free speech rights to students.  SB 1370 (2008) further protects school employees from retaliation for assisting students in exercising such speech rights. 

Although California may lead the nation in providing legal protections for student speech rights, a report released this week showed nearly 70 percent of our public universities are violating state law or the US Constitution through policies restricting free expression. 

Privacy Challenges and Implications of an Electric "Smart Grid" System

By Zack Kaldveer
Communications Director, Consumer Federation of California
and author of the blog Privacy Revolt

A critically important debate has emerged regarding the privacy implications and challenges that a transition to a smart grid system for electricity poses and how such concerns can be addressed.

It's Time to Demand Our dotRights!

By Nicole Ozer
ACLU of Northern California

Your life, your data. Or is it?

When we update our status on Facebook, post those photos on Flickr, or shop for holiday gifts on Amazon, a whole lot happens behind the scenes. The more we do online, the more digital footprints we leave behind. Many sites we visit collect detailed information about us—our politics, hobbies, relationships and more.

Outdated privacy laws often fail to keep your personal information from being shared, sold, or handed over to a snooping government—without a warrant! And the government and some Web companies don't exactly want us to connect the dots.

Who Protects Your Privacy?

Poll of Police Chiefs Shows Death Penalty Ranked Least Among Crime-Fighting Priorities

David M Greenwald.jpgby David M. Greenwald
California Progress Report

A report was released earlier this week by the Death Penalty Information Center. It concludes that states are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on the death penalty, draining state budgets during times of economic crisis when money could be used more effectively on other programs.