A Survival Guide to the Next Four Years

A Survival Guide to the Next Four Years

Join us for "A Survival Guide to the Next Four Years," part of our First Wednesday's educational series. Hear from community advocates on how to stand up for what's right in the face of threats...

5 Things You Can Do

5 Things You Can Do

  January 10, 2017 As long as there is an American Civil Liberties Union (and we've been around for nearly 100 years), we will take a stand for what is right. We're stronger when you stand...

Resources for Families & People at Risk

Resources for Families & People at Risk

FEEL LIKE YOU'RE AT RISK? The ACLU has compiled a list of resources to help you. Since the election we've received a tremendous outpouring of support, and we want you to know we are working...

  • A Survival Guide to the Next Four Years

  • 5 Things You Can Do

  • Resources for Families & People at Risk

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A Survival Guide to the Next Four Years

PROOF Survival Guide Sticker

Join us for "A Survival Guide to the Next Four Years," part of our First Wednesday's educational series. Hear from community advocates on how to stand up for what's right in the face of threats and policies that undermine our rights and the rights of our neighbors.

Wednesday, February 1
5:30 p.m. cocktails, 6-7 p.m. program
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
340 N. Senate Ave. | Indianapolis, IN 46204

Panelists include:

  • Terri Morris Downs, Executive Director, Immigrant Welcome Center
  • Patti Stauffer, Vice President of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky
  • Rima Shahid, Executive Director, Muslim Alliance of Indiana
  • Ebony Chappel, Editor in Chief, Indianapolis Recorder and Indianapolis Minority Business Magazine

Register now!

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ACLU Declares War Only on Violations of the Constitution

By Jane Henegar, Executive Director, ACLU of Indiana

Jane Henegar webNo doubt, the distinctions between the First Amendment's protections for an individual's free exercise of religion and the First Amendment's prohibition against government's endorsement of religion can be confusing and complicated. However, each of the arguments that Mr. Heck [ACLU declares 'war' on the Constitution, 12/18/16] presents has been addressed and squarely rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is what past U.S. Supreme Court decisions say about the issues surrounding the town of Knightstown's decision to place a cross on top of a Christmas tree in the town square:

  • A Christmas tree has become a secular seasonal decoration. This conclusion by the Court is clearly shared by the millions of Americans and businesses who celebrate the holiday with a decorated tree in their living rooms or shop windows even though they may not celebrate the religious significance of the holiday.
  • Conversely, a Latin cross, such as the one that the town of Knightstown decided to place atop its tree, is the preeminent symbol of Christianity and not traditionally associated with Christmas.
  • When town government adds a Cross to its otherwise secularized decorations (trees, sleigh bells, and Santa Claus with his reindeer) it endorses Christianity over other religions.
  • The First Amendment prohibits all levels of government from endorsing religion. This Constitutional prohibition understandably covers actions of state and local governments, such as Knightstown, and not merely laws enacted by Congress.
  • Individuals have the right to freely exercise their religion, but the Establishment Clause of the Constitution makes clear that government does not have that same right.
  • A town government can open up the public square to allow individuals to express their individual religious beliefs if they allow all individuals, regardless of their faith, to do so. But, many cities, towns, or states have found the ensuing free exercise free-for-all to be unmanageable because Satanists, pagans, or other beliefs invariably seek to add their symbols to the public square.

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Thanksgiving letter from ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Jane Henegar

Nov. 17, 2016

Jane Henegar web      Jane Henegar
My View: By Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director

The first president's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation still speaks to America:

"We are thankful... for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge...."

—George Washington, 1789

The same year George Washington wrote these words, the Bill of Rights was introduced. Those first amendments to our Constitution are the bedrock for the individual liberties we all enjoy as Americans: your rights to religious liberty, free speech and assembly, a free press and privacy. These and other freedoms are essential to a functioning democracy.

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ACLU Challenges Sign Ordinance Limiting Political Expression

Oct. 31, 2016

Indianapolis — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana today filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Bedford, Ind. resident who is challenging a newly enacted city ordinance regulating yard signs that has the effect of stifling his political expression. The lawsuit claims that the ordinance violates the First and the Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

 "The Ordinance's limitation of one general use sign on a resident's lawn is a particularly oppressive during election time when citizens wish to voice their support and opposition for multiple candidates and political issues." —Jan Menz, ACLU of Indiana staff attorney

The ACLU of Indiana filed the case against the City of Bedford on behalf of Samuel Shaw, who is seeking to stop the city from enforcing City Ordinance 15-2016, which was enacted in September.

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VICTORY! Case Managers Win Appeal Challenging DCS Staffing

Oct. 25, 2016

Decision reverses trial court's order to dismiss, saying case managers have a right to bring an action to force DCS to comply with state law 

Indianapolis – Today the Court of Appeals of Indiana handed a victory to case managers at the Indiana Department of Child Services more than a year after they filed a class action lawsuit challenging the failure of DCS to adequately staff the agency as required by law.

In July, 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana brought the class-action lawsuit against DCS on behalf of case manager Mary Price and other case managers for violating Indiana Code § 31-25-2-5, which mandates the maximum number of caseloads case managers may have. Today's decision reverses the trial court's Feb., 2016 order to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that case managers have a right to bring an action under mandate to force DCS to comply with the statutory caseload maximums. The case has been remanded to the trial court.

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VICTORY! U.S. Court of Appeals Denies Indiana's Effort to Prevent Resettlement of Syrian Refugee Families


Oct. 3, 2016

Indianapolis – Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a federal court ruling that prohibits the State of Indiana from taking any actions to interfere with or attempt to deter the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana, including by withholding funds and services to resettlement groups and the refugees they serve.

"The Court of Appeals' decision underscores what we have said throughout this litigation," said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana. "Governor Pence may not constitutionally or legally discriminate against a particular nationality of refugees that are extensively vetted by the federal government."

The lawsuit filed in November, 2015 was brought by Exodus Refugee Immigration, a nonprofit resettlement agency, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and ACLU national, which said the state's actions to discriminate against Syrian refugees on the basis of national origin violate both equal protection and civil rights laws and intrude on authority that is exclusively federal.

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