This week it's rumored that Trump will announce his plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that gives undocumented immigrants work and student visas if they arrived...
Aug. 28, 2017 Indianapolis – On August 28, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a decision ending a case brought by a DCS caseworker challenging the failure of DCS to adequately staff the agency as...
Decision garnered national attention as requirement would have made Indiana one of the most restrictive states to obtain an abortion April 3, 2017 In a joint news conference today, the ACLU of...
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana distributed over 1,200 pocket-sized U.S. Constitutions around downtown Indy, all in under 30 minutes. September 15 marked the ACLU of Indiana's...
Please join the ACLU of Indiana in Bloomington on Sept. 6 to learn about actions and policies that are threatening our core American values. Come hear state and local advocates talk about what they...
The ACLU of Indiana stands against the coordinated attack on voting rights in this country, which includes the administration's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission. The "Election...
Hundreds rallying around Monument Circle. Thousands marching in the streets. Tens of thousands chanting at airports. Tens of millions stepping up to the ballot box. You may not always agree with...
On June 29, Aaron Bailey was pulled over and fatally shot by IMPD. Bailey was an unarmed person of color, whose tragic death demands action and accountability. Both IMPD and the FBI are in the midst...
In 2017 it's shocking that the President of the United States is unwilling to accept the fact that all Americans should be able to serve in the military regardless of their...
By Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana There is a threat to electoral integrity in Indiana and across the nation. It isn't hidden within voter data. It is right out in the...
JUNE 8, 2017 INDIANAPOLIS - The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana praised a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirming that Tippecanoe County violated the...
April 12, 2017 The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit April 12, 2017, demanding government documents about the on-the-ground implementation of...
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana distributed over 1,200 pocket-sized U.S. Constitutions around downtown Indy, all in under 30 minutes. September 15 marked the ACLU of Indiana's precursor celebration to Constitution Day on the 17th.
We would like to thank our community partners who volunteered their time to hand out constitutions, register new voters and connect people with tangible ways that they can take action.
Community partners included:
• Planned Parenthood of Indiana-Kentucky
• Muslim Alliance of Indiana
• NAACP of Greater Indianapolis
• Common Cause of Indiana
• League of Women Voters of Indianapolis
• Immigrant Welcome Center
• Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana
• Exodus Refugee
• Jewish Community Relations Council of Indianapolis
• Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance
• Women 4 Change
• Cummins Indianapolis Community Involvement Team
Hundreds rallying around Monument Circle. Thousands marching in the streets. Tens of thousands chanting at airports. Tens of millions stepping up to the ballot box. You may not always agree with their messages, their beliefs, or their choices. But, these Americans are embracing what has made our country great. Each in their own way, they are embracing our freedom and our obligation, under the United State Constitution, to Form a More Perfect Union.
Every year we at the ACLU of Indiana celebrate Constitution Day on September 17th.
We are a great country.
We have a genius Constitution that gives us the mechanisms with which to correct ourselves over and over again.
It gives us the values that guide us through that difficult process: Fairness, equality, and freedom.
It is a great system, though not perfect. And, it has held America together for over 200 years.
The ACLU has an important role to play in that system.
We help turn the words of the Constitution into action.
But the real work is with all of you, with all of us, with We the People
Over and over again, we must take to the street and to the ballot box to remind our leaders and our fellow citizens of the core values and dictates of the Constitution.
On the 230th anniversary of the signing of that miraculous, flawed and enduring document, its magic still isn't in the words; its magic is in the action it enables.
When a roomful of civil liberties activists—led by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, and Albert DeSilver—formed the ACLU in 1920, the U.S. Supreme Court had yet to uphold a single free speech claim. Now, with the work of the ACLU and the bravery of those with whom we have fought, the right to speak out, protest, and petition, without fear that government will shut us up because of the content of our speech, is baked into our American bones. Our union has made progress but isn't perfect yet.
In 1787, the founders of our country penned a document that became the bedrock of our democracy. But it has required attention, revision, care and growth. At its inception, the Constitution left out people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, the disabled, and others from its pages and protections. But slowly, first with ten Amendments, aka the Bill of Rights, and then more, the U.S. Constitution has changed the world's understanding of the freedoms and liberties government must cede to We the People. Included in this genius document is the exclusive power of our courts to interpret and apply the Constitution. Still, collectively, we haven't always gotten it right. We aren't perfect yet.
The ACLU has held every administration accountable to letter of the Constitution. And, we will hold this administration accountable too. The ACLU will fight for the fairness due immigrants. We will fight efforts to take away the rights of women to control their own reproductive health care. We will fight for full protections against racial discrimination, against discrimination on the basis sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. We will fight to protect each American's vote and voice. We will fight because fairness, freedom and equality are baked into our American bones.
So when we celebrate our Constitution, we celebrate more than the remarkable document signed at the Philadelphia Convention. We celebrate that as a nation, a state, and a city, We the People can speak truth to power and fight for what is right.
Together, we celebrate the pursuit of a More Perfect Union.
-Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS -- The ACLU of Indiana filed a motion for summary judgement to finalize its victory on behalf of Syrian refugees seeking protection from war and deprivation. In 2015, the state of Indiana, under then Governor Mike Pence, attempted to prevent Syrian refugees from entering the state of Indiana by denying funding to agencies serving the refugees. The ACLU, on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration, successfully prevented the state's unconstitutional actions.
"Withholding funding from Exodus was an attempt to discriminate against particular refugees because of their nationality," says Ken Falk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "Refugees coming into this country are extensively vetted and the state of Indiana provided no evidence to warrant usurping the federal government's authority or throwing aside constitutional protections. We are asking the courts to put this to rest."
In November of 2015, the ACLU of Indiana and the ACLU national filed a suit on behalf of Exodus Refugee after then Governor Pence issued an executive order to halt funding for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. On October 3 of 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling in favor of Exodus.
In part, the ruling says that the state on behalf of the governor "argues that his policy of excluding Syrian refugees is based not on nationality and thus is not discriminatory, but is based solely on the threat he thinks they pose to the safety of residents of Indiana. But that's the equivalent of his saying (not that he does say) that he wants to forbid black people to settle in Indiana not because they're black but because he's afraid of them, and since race is therefore not his motive he isn't discriminating. But that of course would be racial discrimination, just as his targeting Syrian refugees is discrimination on the basis of nationality."
"The constitution prohibits states from discriminating on the basis of national origin or religion," says Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "The ACLU asks the courts to protect the rights of all, especially those made vulnerable by war and deprivation."
"While this case is but one victory in an ongoing campaign to fight back against religious and ethnic discrimination, it is an important one for Indiana and the many refugees that now call this state home," says Cole Varga, Executive Director of Exodus Refugee.
Exodus Refugee Immigration is a nonprofit corporation that receives federal money through the state's Office of Refugee Programs, located within the Family and Social Services Administration, to assist in resettlement of federally approved and screened refugees. The funds that they receive are used to assist with employment training, English language education and other services. Exodus settled 947 refugee arrivals in 2016, and 242 Syrian refugees in total since October of 2014.
The case, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc. v. Mike Pence, Case No. 1:15-cv-1858, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on Nov. 23, 2015 and was decided on Oct. 3, 2016.
On June 29, Aaron Bailey was pulled over and fatally shot by IMPD. Bailey was an unarmed person of color, whose tragic death demands action and accountability. Both IMPD and the FBI are in the midst of investigations. The ACLU of Indiana is grateful that Prosecutor Terry Curry has heard the concerns of the community and designated a special prosecutor to pursue the case.
At the ACLU of Indiana, we believe that Aaron Bailey, his family and the Indianapolis community deserve an examination of the facts that will expose both the truth and the path toward a safe community for all.
"None of the actions that we can take now will bring back the life that was taken, but we as a community and as advocates must do whatever we can to ensure this tragedy does not repeat itself," says Katie Blair, Director of Advocacy with the ACLU of Indiana.
The first steps toward transparency were taken with Curry's appointment of a special prosecutor and with local law enforcement's examination of their policing practices.
"We stand with the family of Aaron Bailey," says Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "The recurring incidents of police actions, around the country, that harm people of color show the need for policing practices that serve and protect with fairness and without bias."
Police departments across the country engage in aggressive and selective enforcement disproportionately and unfairly in communities of color. The facts are undeniable and these tragedies need to stop immediately. We encourage and support IMPD in their stated intention to spend time and care revamping their training practices. We ask that they maintain this focus on fairness and impartiality for years to come.
While the ACLU of Indiana is not presently involved in litigation in this matter, the ACLU nationally demands transparency and the protection of our civil liberties. We are paying close attention to Aaron Bailey's case as more details come forward.
August 17, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS -- Today the ACLU of Indiana a filed class action lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis for unconstitutionally prohibiting homeless individuals from standing and gathering on certain public sidewalks downtown, while exempting those who are not homeless. The ACLU argues that the city's policy and actions, by selectively targeting homeless people, violate their clients' constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law.
On August 4, 2017 the city posted notice that homeless people remove themselves and their things from downtown underpasses within four days. Since that time, homeless persons have been prohibited even from standing or sitting, while the City allows people who are not homeless to remain without interference. The lawsuit is brought on behalf of Maurice Young, a homeless man and advocate in Indianapolis, and other homeless individuals who have been banned from standing or sitting on public sidewalks by the city's selectively-enforced declaration of emergency.
"The Supreme Court has repeatedly invalidated attempts to prohibit persons from gathering for innocent purposes," said Ken Falk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "The right to do so does not depend on a person's housing status. The Constitution guarantees everyone equal protection under the law."
Mr. Young, who works with the homeless and often meets with them in these areas, sat down on one of the wide sidewalks under a downtown overpass and was told to leave by an officer with the IMPD, who said that homeless individuals could not sit or stand under an overpass. The ACLU of Indiana's suit argues that the policy and actions of the City of Indianapolis violate the Constitution.
"Homeless people such as Mr. Young deserve respect for their humanity and the full protection of the Constitution," said Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "The City of Indianapolis is trying to make an end-run around the Constitution with a permanent state of emergency, but the rule of law still applies."
The lawsuit alleges that the city's definition of "emergency" is unconstitutionally vague, as is the city's prohibition on standing, sitting, or otherwise congregating on the sidewalks that are under the railroad bridges immediately north of South Street on Pennsylvania Street, Meridian Street, Illinois Street, and Capitol Avenue. The lawsuit further alleges that the city's selective enforcement only to homeless persons violates equal protection. The ACLU of Indiana is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.
"All homeless people have rights and those rights must be protected," said Maurice Young, plaintiff and a longtime homeless advocate in Indianapolis.
The case, Maurice Young v. City of Indianapolis, Case No. 1:17-cv-02818-TWP-MJD, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on August 17, 2017.
In 2017 it's shocking that the President of the United States is unwilling to accept the fact that all Americans should be able to serve in the military regardless of their gender.
"Transgender military members are brave Americans who are selflessly protecting our freedoms," says Kit Malone, Transgender Educator and Advocate with the ACLU of Indiana. "There is no basis for turning away transgender people from military service, and there is no cost or drawback associated with allowing them to serve."
Recent studies show that about one-fifth of all transgender adults are veterans, making transgender people approximately twice as likely as others to serve in the military.
"We have come to understand that basic equality, as expressed by equal protection, guarantees everyone equal rights," says Ken Falk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "For the President to take this step against people who serve America is shockingly regressive."
We stand with all transgender military members and want to hear from you. If you are transgender and have experienced discrimination please contact us.
By Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana
There is a threat to electoral integrity in Indiana and across the nation. It isn't hidden within voter data. It is right out in the open; it is the number of votes cast in our elections. The U.S. voter turnout is extremely low compared to other countries. We ranked 31st among the 35 countries according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Indiana had the worst voter turnout in the nation in 2014.
Because of voter access and turnout problems, too many eligible voters do not vote in Indiana and across the country. But, instead of focusing on making sure America's elections are safe, fair, and transparent, we are seeing a coordinated attack on voting rights in our nation.
Most recently, the demand for voter information from the "Election Integrity" Commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, raises substantial privacy concerns. Many states have refused to share data and risk the security of voter's personal information.
Here in Indiana, the Secretary of State's office complied with a limited amount of the voter data demanded by Kris Kobach, vice chair of the Commission. Under Indiana law a voter's name, address and congressional district are available to the public. Otherwise, voter information is kept private.
The voter suppression commission, as we should more aptly call it, requested full names of all registrants, addresses and dates of birth, last four digits of social security numbers, political party and voter history. Kobach has promised that "any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public." There is no guarantee that the information will be kept anonymous and secure. For the ACLU of Indiana, the lack of clarity and potential misuse of this data raises substantial constitutional concerns.
This Commission's creation and its overreach for information are indicative of something larger. At the same time that the "Election Integrity" Commission sent out their request, the Department of Justice informed all 50 states that they "are reviewing voter registration list maintenance procedures in each state covered by the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act]" and asking how states plan to remove voters from the rolls. The ACLU sees this as a sign that the Department of Justice may sue states in the hopes of forcing them to remove voters from the rolls, endangering the rights of many.
Given these concerns, the lack of transparency of the Commission is alarming. Which is why the ACLU has filed suit. Federal law requires that meetings be open to the public. The Commission must provide timely notice of meetings, allowing for in-person attendance, and make written records available to the public. Federal law also states that the Commission must ensure that it's not inappropriately influenced by special interests or the president himself.
The "Election Integrity" Commission has violated federal requirements and impeded constitutional rights. We will hold it accountable. It's our elected officials' responsibility to preserve and advance the right to vote, not to hinder and impair.
The right to vote is essential to a vibrant democracy. The ACLU of Indiana will continue to protect our democracy and support our constitutional right to have our voices heard.
Take action against this attack on voter's rights
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal court today blocked provisions of a restrictive new abortion law, SEA 404, from taking effect, granting a request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) and its patients. Signed by Governor Eric Holcomb earlier this year, SEA 404 sought to impose unconstitutional requirements on physicians and health care providers as well as undue burdens on young women's personal medical decisions.
"Today's ruling is a victory for women and another rebuke of politicians who insist on putting their own agenda ahead of women's health and safety," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director. "Today's ruling should also send a clear message to politicians in the capitol to stop putting arbitrary and invasive bureaucratic hurdles between women and their personal medical decisions."
SEA 404 included an unnecessary and dangerous add-on to Indiana's existing parental consent law. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a minor who is unable or unwilling to obtain parental consent for an abortion must be allowed to obtain an abortion if a judge determines that she is sufficiently mature to make the decision herself or that an abortion is in her best interest. Indiana has long had such a procedure. SEA 404, however, would afford another opportunity for a parent to block a minor's decision to obtain an abortion by allowing parents to be notified, even in cases in which a judge has determined that a young woman is mature enough to make the decision herself. The Court concluded that this provision "places an unjustifiable burden on mature minors in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment."
"This decision affirms that the state must continue to provide a safe alternative for young women who - whatever their circumstances - are unable to talk to their parents about this difficult and personal decision," said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director, Ken Falk. "Instead of protecting women and families, these heavy-handed restrictions would have burdened young women's constitutional rights and put their health and safety at risk."
Another provision of the new legislation would have imposed unconstitutional requirements on physicians to review identification that is not required for any other medical or surgical procedure. A third provision of SEA 404 violates the First Amendment free speech requirements by silencing health care providers who may give information to young women about their legal options in seeking an abortion in the absence of parental consent.
"Judge Sarah Evans Barker's ruling is an affirmation of abortion rights in Indiana," said Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of PPINK. "PPINK encourages teenagers to have open and honest conversations with their family members, but we recognize that not every teen is able to do so safely. SEA 404 sought to silence our staff and prevent fully-informed conversations with our patients. It is blatantly unconstitutional and yet another example of politicians trying to make medical decisions for Hoosiers."
The case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, et al., Case1:17-cv-01636-SEB-DML, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on May 18, 2017 and was decided on June 28, 2017.
Please join the ACLU of Indiana in Bloomington on Sept. 6 to learn about actions and policies that are threatening our core American values. Come hear state and local advocates talk about what they are doing and what you can do to stand up for what's right. The event will feature activists who fight for reproductive health, women's rights, immigrant rights, racial and social justice. They will share their own struggles and the biggest issues facing us all. Pizza will be provided.
Panel speakers include:
-Jane Henegar: Executive Director, ACLU of Indiana
-Christie Gillespie: CEO, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky
-Alexis Burr: Member on the Commission on Multicultural Understanding and former Director of Campus Unity on the Indiana Memorial Union Board
-Luma Khabbaz: President, Muslim Student Association of IU
-Esmeralda Martinez: President, UndocuHoosiers Bloomington
Where: Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Moot Court Room, 1st floor, 211 S Indiana Ave, Bloomington
When: Wednesday, September 6, 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO ALL
Partners for this event include Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Black Law Students Association, and IU Maurer School of Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society.
A SURVIVAL GUIDE, FORT WAYNE EDITION
Our rights are under attack. Things are moving quickly. Are you prepared?
Join us for "A Survival Guide," part of our First Wednesday's educational series.
A Survival Guide
Wednesday, June 7, 6-7:30 p.m.
3402 Fairfield Ave
Fort Wayne, IN 46807
Hear from the ACLU of Indiana and other community advocates on how to stand up for what's right the in the face of threats and policies that undermine our core American values. I will moderate a panel including:
Ahmed Abdelmageed, member of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana Board of Directors and Assistant Dean of Experiential Education and Community Engagement at Manchester UniversityKit Malone, the ACLU of Indiana's Transgender Education and Advocacy consultantMelissa A. Rinehart, Ph.D., Lead Organizer for Welcoming Fort WayneWanda Savala, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky's Public Affairs Manager
Thanks so much for your willingness to defend our shared values of fairness and freedom. It will take all of us.
Special thanks to the event's co-sponsor, the Wunderkammer Company.
Decision garnered national attention as requirement would have made Indiana one of the most restrictive states to obtain an abortion
In a joint news conference today, the ACLU of Indiana and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) shared in the victory of being granted a preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana regarding the ultrasound requirement in House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1337.
"HEA 1337 required women to travel, often great distances, to obtain an ultrasound and then at least 18 hours later, return for an abortion. The court found that this new requirement resulted in a real impediment to women and served no legitimate purpose," said Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana Legal Director. "The court concluded, by granting the preliminary injunction, that PPINK was likely to ultimately succeed in its claim that the law was unconstitutional as an undue burden on a woman's constitutional rights."
Over the past year, a historic level of activism and protest has spilled out into our nation's parks, streets, and sidewalks — places where our First Amendment rights are at their height. And yet, in several states including Indiana, legislators have followed up on this exuberant activism with proposed bills that are not only far less inspiring, but also unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional.
Disappointingly, SB 285 is one such bill.
Even though these bills are cloaked with concerns about obstruction or public safety, their effect is singular: chilling protest and suppressing dissent. It is disappointing that our lawmakers would rather silence the voices of their constituents than listen and engage with them. It is unconstitutional and un-American and we at the ACLU are doing everything we can to stop it.
Editors: Please contact Christy Glesing at (317) 667-5991 for more information or to publish.
The First Amendment and existing federal and state law protect religious speech and mandate certain accommodations for religious exercise in government institutions. What the First Amendment does not permit is government endorsement of, or preference for, religious speech and subject matter in public schools.
By forcing public schools to introduce religious curricula and open up public for a for religious speech, HB 1024 puts teachers and school administrators at risk of violating the First Amendment. In sum, HB 1024 takes away the autonomy of school districts to avoid policies and practices that make them susceptible to legal challenges under the United States Constitution.
A Survival Guide to the Next Four Years will be held in cities across Indiana this year. Registration for these free community discussions featuring local panelists will open soon.
Hear from the ACLU of Indiana and other community advocates on how to stand up for what's right the in the face of threats and policies that undermine our core American values.
June 7, 6-7:30 p.m.
Location and panelists to be determined soon, but you can still RSVP today!
No 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:
Updated: Dec. 13, 2016
On Dec. 12, Knightstown officials removed a religious symbol from the town square in response to a lawsuit filed Dec. 8 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of Knightstown, Ind. resident Joseph Tompkins. The lawsuit challenges the Town of Knightstown's display of a Latin cross on a large evergreen tree on the square. The tree is also decorated with lights and ornaments in celebration of Christmas. The plaintiff, citing a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, sought only to have the religious symbol removed, and did not seek monetary damages for the suit. Attorneys are looking at a resolution to this case.
In 1986, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in ACLU of Illinois v. City of St. Charles, affirmed a preliminary injunction stopping the City of St. Charles from displaying a cross on a television antenna that was on top of its fire department.
"The cross is the best known symbol of Christianity and Knightstown's prominent display of this symbol represents an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director.