Civil Liberties The National Newsletter of the ACLU #380, Spring 1994 (c) 1994 American Ci

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Civil Liberties The National Newsletter of the ACLU #380, Spring 1994 (c) 1994 American Civil Liberties Union IN THE COURTS: We Won! The ACLU continues to score significant victories in state and federal courts across the country. Here are summaries of some recent triumphs: Drug Testing on Campus In November 1993, the ACLU of Colorado won its 1984 challenge to the University of Colorado's requirement that all students wanting to participate in intercollegiate athletics submit to urinalysis at their annual physical, as well as to random urine tests throughout the academic year, whether or not they were suspected of using drugs. The Colorado Supreme Court held that the program violated both the Fourth Amendment's privacy guarantees and the equivalent section of the state constitution. In May 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review, letting the lower court ruling stand. On May 5, the ACLU of Oregon won vindication under the Fourth Amendment for James Acton, who was dismissed from his junior high school football team two years ago for refusing a drug test. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said: Concerns about student drug use notwithstanding, "we also understand the concern of our forebears and the importance of the protections given by the constitutional provisions which prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures." Foster Care Reform The Children's Rights Project, representing all foster children in Washington, D.C. plus thousands of other abused and neglected children about whom the District receives reports each year, proved, in a lawsuit brought in 1989, that the District's child welfare system was "in a state of ongoing crisis as severe as that experienced by many of the homes from which the system is removing children." In 1991, the federal District Court declared the system illegal and irreparably harmful to the children it was supposed to protect. Sweeping reforms negotiated by the ACLU have been in process since; however, District officials appealed that portion of the decision holding them liable for the system's failings. In late 1993, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the liability ruling, and in January 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review. The ACLU continues to monitor District compliance with the reform order. Mother-To-Be Rescued On February 22, the Superior Court of Pennsyvania threw out criminal charges brought against Michelle Kemp for delivering a controlled substance to her fetus. The law under which Kemp was charged, said the Court, was not intended to apply in utero. The Women's Rights Project and the Greater Pittsburgh ACLU Chapter represented Kemp. Significantly, the Court was unpersuaded by the state's invocation of Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act, which defines an "unborn child" as a human being at conception. Gays in the Military On April 4, the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project obtained a preliminary injunction from a federal District Court in New York blocking the government's discharge of six service members who are plaintiffs in an ACLU challenge to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The ACLU acted when the government notified one of our clients of his imminent discharge, two days after learning that he was a plaintiff in the case. The injunction protects the six plaintiffs' military status until their case is decided. Prisoners' Rights On March 18, the National Prison Project reached an historic settlement in a Rhode Island lawsuit that was initiated in 1974. Back in 1977, the federal District Court declared the entire state prison system unconstitutional, ordered remediation of the system's overcrowded, unhealthy and unsafe conditions and appointed an overseer to monitor compliance with that order. Over the years, the state was held in contempt several times for noncompliance. The settlement compels the state to bring conditions in its prisons up to constitutional standards. Freedom for "Mariel Cuban" After fleeing to these shores from Cuba in 1980, Alexis Barrera- Echavarria spent nine years in various federal prisons -- refused repatriation by the Cuban government and considered "dangerous" by the U.S., although he had not been charged with a crime. Echavarria challenged his incarceration, supported by the Immigrants' Rights Project and the ACLU of Southern California as friends-of-the-court. On March 31, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that even excludable aliens are entitled to due process and cannot be preventively detained for long periods without trial. Voting Rights Victory The Southern Regional Office and the NAACP, after triumphing when a federal District Court created a majority black Congressional district that elected James Clyburn, South Carolina's first black Member of Congress since Reconstruction, have now won their appeal of redistricting plans for the state house and senate on behalf of a coalition of African Americans. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed that the lower court had failed to adequately evaluate those plans under the racial fairness standards of the Voting Rights Act. The state is now poised to create approximately nine additional majority black house districts in time for the 1994 elections. Abortion Funding In Idaho In a 1993 lawsuit filed by the Reproductive Freedom Project, the ACLU of Idaho and Planned Parenthood, a state trial court declared unconstitutional, under Idaho's constitution, a rule that prohibited state funding for abortions unless two physicians certified that the procedure was necessary to save a woman's life. "While the state is not constitutionally required to provide financial assistance for pregnancy care," held the court, "once it decides to do so generally, it must proceed in a neutral manner. It may not pick and choose ... especially where the choosing may invade a woman's constitutionally protected right." The state has not appealed. -------------------- Steven R. Shapiro is Legal Director of the ACLU. ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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