Stimulate public transit, updates on voting rights, US Senate approves equal pay, and more

23 Jan

Civil liberties news in review…

Environmental Justice
The ACLU of Wisconsin has many suggestions for the Governor to make our state government less discriminatory, protective of civil liberties and better for all people. But while the federal stimulus bill is being debated by the national legislature, we suggest that any “shovel-ready” projects we spend federal dollars on go into programs for public transit, rather than more highways. “For civil rights and environmental justice reasons, transit development should be one of Wisconsin’s highest priorities,” stated ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty. “For too many years, communities of color – who are much more likely to be transit dependent than other groups – have been left behind by transportation spending.” For people without cars or drivers licenses, getting to jobs the stimulus is supposed to produce would be impossible without public transportation. Making this a priority will be a better environmental and economic investment.

Racial Justice
And I know that this blog usually focuses on Wisconsin state civil liberties news or really important national ACLU action alerts, but I was really shocked to see this story about how a school in Mississippi just had their first integrated high school prom. Actor Morgan Freeman footed the bill for the shin dig and a documentary crew was there to make a film which premiered last week at Sundance. Some families still had a whites-only, separate prom. We shouldn’t forget that even though millions of people celebrated a historic election and a victory for racial justice this week, fighting racism continues to be at the heart of the ACLU’s commitment to civil rights from Brown v. Board of Education to today’s struggle for educational adequacy and equity.

Voting Rights
Did you hear that Senator Herb Kohl is a co-sponsor of a Weekend Voting Act? He just introduced it as an option for voters who can’t get to the polls on the first Tuesday of November. More voting options help democracy. Good job!

Van Hollen drops GAB lawsuit appeal after they agree to do back checks, in the more reasonable post-election clean up period anyway.

The state Supreme Court said they won’t pull together a plan to settle disputes on pending redistricting after the 2010 census. They are leaving the legislature to hash it out. For a citizen-friendly resource on redistricting and the implications for both democracy and partisan controversies, check out the Brennan’s Center report.

Separation of Church and State
FFRF drops Green Bay lawsuit appeal after no nativity in 2008 season, but takes up the issue of MATC closing for Good Friday.

Women’s Rights
Hey. The US Senate thinks women should get equal pay. Radicals! Now the bill goes back to the House for final consideration. The ACLU applauds the vote.

And in case you missed the national ACLU director on the Colbert Report

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