Georgia may soon drug test food stamp recipients

March 27, 2014

By Ned Resnikoff
www.msnbc.com

Just before the close of Georgia’s 2014 legislative session last week, the state’s General Assembly granted final approval to a law that would allow state workers to drug test food stamp recipients. The law, H.B. 772, now awaits the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican.

An earlier version of the bill would have made drug testing mandatory for all food stamp recipients, but members of the House changed the bill’s wording after a federal judge ruled that a similar law in Florida violated the Fourth Amendment. To avoid the same fate, H.B. 772 was rewritten to require “reasonable suspicion” that a food stamp recipient was using illegal drugs before caseworkers could order a drug test.

Roe v Wade 41st Anniversary

January 28, 2014

January 22nd marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that guaranteed reproductive freedom for all women and enhanced the privacy protections of all Americans. While it is unfortunate that reproductive freedom is still under attack 40 years later, we would like you to know that the ACLU and the ACLU of Georgia remain vigilant in our support of reproductive freedom and respect for the personal autonomy of all women.

In the courts...

In 2012, the ACLU of Georgia and the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project filed a lawsuit against the State of Georgia, seeking to prevent the State from implementing a 20-week abortion ban. In December 2012, the Fulton County Superior Court issued an injunction against the law as it applies to pre-viable abortion care and the injunction remains in effect today. By bringing this suit, we prevented this anti-choice law from infringing upon the rights that Georgia women are guaranteed underRoeand we are confident that the Georgia courts will find this law unconstitutional.

The ACLU has released a new ACLU report on license plate readers.

July 17, 2013

The ACLU has released the most comprehensive report to date on law enforcement’s use of license plate readers, one of the fastest-proliferating technologies in the government’s surveillance arsenal. Learn about how your movements on the road are being tracked and recorded: www.aclu.org/plates

Sen. Isakson Defends Government Surveillance Program

June 10, 2013

WABE News
Jonathan Shapiro

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is defending the government surveillance program revealed to be gathering call logs from millions of Verizon phone subscribers.

Speaking after a conference in downtown Atlanta, Iskason said it’s been an important tool in preventing terrorist attacks.

“I can’t talk about some of the things that I know with regard to what our security procedures are, but I am satisfied that there’s no violation of the civil rights of an American citizen in there.”

The National Security Agency and others in the intelligence community are authorized to collect the call logs under 2001’s Patriot Act. Congress maintains oversight and federal judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must approve all data requests. In 2011, Congress renewed the Patriot Act for an additional four years.

Abortion Fight Is Unique To Georgia

May 31, 2013

photo by Rebecca Breyer
Daily Report
May 31, 2013
By Kathleen Baydala Joyner

Opponents of Georgia's ban on most abortions after 20 weeks since fertilization have found comfort—but not strategy—in a federal appeals court's recent ruling against a similar law in Arizona.

Rather than relying on the federal principles that felled Arizona's law, the Georgia plaintiffs argue that the state constitution's right to privacy protects a right to abortion. If it's successful, the challenge could etch a constitutional right to abortion in Georgia that would stand even if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade.

Protestors Rally Outside Drone Conference in Buckhead

May 29, 2013

Protestors Rally Outside Drone Conference in Buckhead

90.1 FM WABE
Jonathan Shapiro

Protestors gathered in Atlanta Tuesday to rally against the nation’s drone strike program. They demonstrated outside a Buckhead hotel currently hosting a national conference on drone aircraft.

As nearby cars whizzed by Peachtree Street, long-time Atlanta civil rights advocate and Air Force veteran Joe Beasley said the drone strikes need to stop.

“I would implore President Obama to move away from these drones. It’s just deplorable. It’s just cowardice,” said Beasley.

He was flanked by about two dozen protestors with signs calling for an end to the nation’s drone strike program.

The rally comes just a week after the president vowed to dramatically reduce drone strikes and make the program more transparent. He said there'd be a new emphasis on capturing suspects instead of killing them and targeting only those who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the U.S. He also pledged to transfer oversight of the program from the CIA to the Pentagon, a move that would make more information available to the public.

But at the rally, Georgia ACLU attorney Azadeh Shahshahani said the president didn't go far enough.

“To the extent that there’s going to be extra oversight, that’s good, but it doesn’t end the problem that the program is going to continue and people far from any battlefield without charge or trial are going to be killed,” said Shahshahani.

A recent Gallup poll shows 65 percent of Americans support the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists based overseas. That number drops to 41 percent when targeting U.S. citizens in other countries who are suspected of terrorism.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington after the president’s counterterrorism remarks, Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, argued the use of covert drone strikes remains a vital tool in the War on Terror.

“To open the books, so to speak, on the drone program does not make America a safer place to live.”

And at an event held Tuesday in Sandy Springs, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson called drone technology “remarkable” and expressed support for the continued use of drones in intelligence-gathering and terrorist assassinations.

“The day we decide we are no longer going to participate is the day the terrorists have won that battle and they will hold us to cower in fear,” said Isakson.

But Georgia State University political science professor Chip Carey said at the rally the use of targeted drone strikes is “shortsighted.” He argued drones kill civilians and thereby breed more terrorists. Plus, he said, the technological gap is closing quickly.

“Between 50 to 70 countries have drone technology now including Iran. It’s only a matter of time before what goes around will come around."

Carey argued drones pose as much danger as chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and therefore should be tightly controlled. He wants the U.S. to enter into a binding international arms treaty banning their use.

State Court Temporarily Halts Georgia Abortion Ban

December 26, 2012

State Court Temporarily Halts Georgia Abortion Ban

The Superior Court of Fulton County last Friday temporarily suspended a Georgia law banning pre-viability abortions. The law would have criminalized virtually all abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy, with only an extremely narrow exception for the woman's health.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia challenged the law on behalf of three Georgia obstetrician-gynecologists whose patients include women in need of this essential medical care.

“This law places women in harm’s way by depriving them of the right to make their own serious medical decisions,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Politicians should not place ideology over a woman's health."

Although very few abortions occur after 20 weeks, a woman who has an abortion at this point does so for a variety of reasons, including the fact that continuing the pregnancy poses a threat to her health, that the fetus has been diagnosed with a medical condition or anomaly, or that the pregnancy has failed, and miscarriage is inevitable.

“We’re glad that this dangerous, overreaching law has been put on hold,” said Chad Brock, staff attorney with the ACLU of Georgia. “If our elected officials want to help women, they should be passing laws that increase their access to vital health services – not putting them in jeopardy by denying them critical care.”

For more information on this case, please visit: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom-womens-rights/lathrop-et-al-v-deal-et-al

Lathrop, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Complaint

Lathrop, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Motion for Injunctive Relief

Lathrop, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Brief in Support of Motion for Injunctive Relief

Lathrop, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Preliminarty Injunction

State Court Temporarily Halts Georgia Abortion Ban

December 26, 2012

State Court Temporarily Halts Georgia Abortion Ban

The Superior Court of Fulton County last Friday temporarily suspended a Georgia law banning pre-viability abortions. The law would have criminalized virtually all abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy, with only an extremely narrow exception for the woman's health.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia challenged the law on behalf of three Georgia obstetrician-gynecologists whose patients include women in need of this essential medical care.

“This law places women in harm’s way by depriving them of the right to make their own serious medical decisions,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Politicians should not place ideology over a woman's health."

Although very few abortions occur after 20 weeks, a woman who has an abortion at this point does so for a variety of reasons, including the fact that continuing the pregnancy poses a threat to her health, that the fetus has been diagnosed with a medical condition or anomaly, or that the pregnancy has failed, and miscarriage is inevitable.

“We’re glad that this dangerous, overreaching law has been put on hold,” said Chad Brock, staff attorney with the ACLU of Georgia. “If our elected officials want to help women, they should be passing laws that increase their access to vital health services – not putting them in jeopardy by denying them critical care.”

For more information on this case, please visit: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom-womens-rights/lathrop-et-al-v-deal-et-al

Legal Docs
Lathrop, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Complaint

Lathrop, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Motion for Injunctive Relief

Lathrop, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Brief for Support of Motion for Injunctive Relief

Lathrip, et al. v. Deal, et al. - Preliminary Injunction

ALCU Foundation of Georgia Seeks Details on Automatic License Plate Readers from Georgia Agencies as Part of Massive Nationwide Request

July 30, 2012

The ACLU Foundation of Georgia joined more than 36 ACLU affiliates today in sending open records requests to local law enforcement agencies on how they use automatic license plate readers (ALPR) to track and record Americans’ movements in 38 states.

The ACLU Foundation of Georgia also sent Open Records Requests to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) to learn how the federal government funds and uses ALPR technology.

ALPRs are cameras mounted on patrol cars or on stationary objects along roads – such as telephone poles or the underside of bridges –that snap a photograph of every license plate that enters their fields of view. Typically, each photo is time, date, and GPS-stamped, stored, and sent to a database, which provides an alert to a patrol officer whenever a match or “hit” appears.

ALPRs are spreading rapidly around the country, but the public has little information about how they are used to track motorists’ movements, including how long data collected by ALPRs is stored, and whether local police departments pool this information in state, regional or national databases. If ALPRs are being used as a tool for mass routine location tracking and surveillance and to collect and store information not just on people suspected of crimes, but on every single motorist, the American people should know that so that they can voice their concerns. People have a right to know whether our police departments are using these ALPRs in a limited and responsible manner, or whether they are keeping records of our movements for months or years for no good reason. ALPRs have already proven controversial. Just last month the Drug Enforcement Administration withdrew its request to install ALPRs along certain portions of Interstate 15 in Utah after they were met with resistance by local lawmakers.

Serious privacy concerns arise when tracking and recording people’s movements. Where we go can reveal a great deal about us, including visits to doctor’s offices, political meetings, and friends. We need legal protections to limit the collection, retention and sharing of our travel information. The information request issued today is a first step.

More information about the requests is available at: aclu.org/plates