Portland Activist Secures First Amendment Win

by Kelly Simon, Legal Fellow

free speechYesterday, Portland activist Joe Walsh's fight for his First Amendment rights was vindicated. Last summer, Mr. Walsh was banned from attending future Portland City Council meetings for 60 days for disruptive behavior. He felt the exclusion violated his rights and took his case to federal court, representing himself pro se. Federal Judge Michael Simon agreed, finding the exclusion was unconstitutional under the First Amendment. 

Judge Simon also struck down the ordinance the City used to create the exclusion. That ordinance gave the the Mayor broad authority and discretion to exclude, potentially indefinitely, any person in violation of any provision of the Rules of Conduct for Portland Properties, including the rule prohibiting disruption. 

It was an exciting victory. However, Mr. Walsh's fight was not over yet. Earlier this month, the City Council debated whether to appeal the decision.

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Remember Our History: Create Minoru Yasui Day in Oregon

Minoru Yasui

Oregonian Minoru Yasui fought back against the unfair and unconstitutional treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II and dedicated the rest of his life to safeguarding the rights of Americans and all peoples on her soil, and advancing equal treatment for all people. His story is a reminder of the struggles for freedom and rights in our country.

In honor of his sacrifices and legacy, we ask that the Oregon legislature dedicate March 28th in perpetuity as Minoru Yasui Day. Add your name to the petition to create Minoru Yasui Day in Oregon.

Minoru Yasui Day will be an opportunity for students and all Oregonians to learn about his fight against Japanese American internment and of his work for equal rights and justice.

It is important that we remember our history, so we can learn from our mistakes. Together we can ensure Oregon is a place where all people can enjoy the liberty and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. 

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Attorney General Rosenblum: Do Not Waive Catholic Hospitals' Merger Review

Catholic Ethical & Religious Directives Restrict Reproductive, End-of-Life Care

January 14, 2016 - The ACLU of Oregon and 12 other public interest organizations sent Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum a letter urging her to reject a request for a waiver from the standard process for reviewing merger transactions by the nation’s 6th largest nonprofit hospital system, Providence Health & Services, and St. Joseph Health.

“This proposed transaction involves eight hospitals across Oregon, and a total of almost 50 hospitals across six states [Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Washington],” the groups said in the letter sent to AG’s office on Jan. 8. “Even absent the transfer of assets, significant changes in health care delivery are likely to occur…it behooves the Attorney General to undertake the full review process to ensure that this transaction preserves existing health care services and benefits the public interest.”

St. Joseph and Providence are both Catholic health systems. Catholic hospitals must typically follow the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The ERDs many forbid reproductive health services, including all birth control methods, sterilization, miscarriage management, abortion, the least invasive treatments for ectopic pregnancies, and some infertility treatments. The ERDs provide no exceptions for risks to a patient’s health or even life.

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Oregon Schools Must Protect Transgender Students

UPDATE: January 20, 2015 - We sent a letter outlining the rights of transgender students to the Dallas School Board ahead of a special meeting held last night. The letter read, in part:

"The refusal to allow transgender students to use the same facilities used by other students in accordance with their gender identity violates Title IX and impairs students’ ability to learn, grow, and thrive in the school environment. Research shows that denying transgender people access to facilities that correspond to the gender they live every day holds serious consequences for them, negatively impacting their education, employment, health, and participation in public life. Conversely, full acceptance of a student’s gender identity—including allowing them access to gender-appropriate facilities —goes a long way toward providing a welcoming environment and a positive educational experience. Moreover, disclosure of a student’s gender identity, without their permission, is against the law and can have serious, long-term negative repercussions. It is critical for schools to respect the privacy of transgender students, even if the school is operating with no ill intent."

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I Was Shot Six Times With Pepper Bullets and Beaten With Batons – and I'm Here to Say Thank You

Plaintiff Mookie Moss, who was shot six times with “pepper bullets” and unjustly beaten with police batons while protesting then-President Bush, penned this open letter to ACLU supporters and members:

Dear ACLU supporter,

Eleven years ago, hundreds of people had gathered in Jacksonville, Oregon to greet then-President George W. Bush. Most were there to protest the administration’s policies on the war in Iraq, the emerging torture culture, as well as, dubious and destructive environmental policies that greatly affected our local and national forest health.

It was a peaceful event, and many people had brought their children to participate in the democratic process. To have a sitting President stay in our small Southern Oregon town was an incredible opportunity to make our voices heard.

Despite our assurances of a peaceful demonstration to local and state law enforcement, things quickly turned violent when riot police marched on the 200 or so people on the anti-Bush side. The police, while obscuring their identities wearing balaclavas, marched with weaponry at the ready towards our assembly of children, grandparents, farmers, teachers, and community members. The riot clad officers ordered the large group to move, and proceeded to forcibly move us without waiting to see if the order had been understood and without allowing time for us to follow it. With the helicopters circling overhead and the general state of confusion and fear initiated by the police, chaos set in.

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Until the No Fly List Is Fixed, It Shouldn’t Be Used to Restrict People’s Freedoms

By Hina Shamsi, Director, ACLU National Security Project

The No Fly List is in the news this week, just in time for the ACLU’s argument in federal court on Wednesday in its five-year-long challenge to the list’s redress process.

Last night, in response to last week’s tragic attack in San Bernardino, California, President Obama urged Congress to ensure that people on the No Fly List be prohibited from purchasing guns. Last week, Republicans in Congress defeated a proposal that would have done just that. "I think it’s very important to remember people have due process rights in this country, and we can’t have some government official just arbitrarily put them on a list," House Speaker Paul Ryan said.

There is no constitutional bar to reasonable regulation of guns, and the No Fly List could serve as one tool for it, but only with major reform. As we will argue to a federal district court in Oregon this Wednesday, the standards for inclusion on the No Fly List are unconstitutionally vague, and innocent people are blacklisted without a fair process to correct government error. Our lawsuit seeks a meaningful opportunity for our clients to challenge their placement on the No Fly List because it is so error-prone and the consequences for their lives have been devastating.

Over the years since we filed our suit — and in response to it — the government has made some reforms, but they are not enough.

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