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 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...
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...
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.
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 First Amendment when it denied a marijuana legalization group permission to hold a rally on the courthouse grounds in Lafayette. The ACLU of Indiana brought the lawsuit on behalf of Higher Society of Indiana, Inc., an organization that advocates and rallies for the legalization of marijuana.
Under the ruling, which affirms the district court's opinion, Tippecanoe County is blocked from enforcing its policy of only allowing events on courthouse grounds that comport with the county's views.
"The freedom of speech is a pillar of our democracy and a fundamental right guaranteed by the First Amendment," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director. "Tippecanoe County's policy of allowing certain groups to rally on courthouse grounds while silencing others is a clear violation of the First Amendment. This ruling is a victory for free speech, and for the rights of all citizens to make their voices heard."
In its opinion, the court concluded that "because the County's policy restricts private speech and it is not viewpoint-neutral, it violates the First Amendment. Higher Society was entitled to a preliminary injunction. We affirm the district court's well-reasoned opinion."
"Government officials can't stop people from speaking just because they don't like what's being said," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director. "As we have for nearly 100 years, the ACLU will continue to challenge unconstitutional restrictions on free speech and defend the right of all Americans to speak their minds."
In May 2016, Higher Society held a rally on courthouse property, but was denied the ability to return to the public space because of a "closed forum" policy that allows county commissioners individually and as a whole to determine which favored groups have access and which do not. In December, the ACLU won a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, which the county then appealed.
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 President Trump's Muslim bans.
The action is part of a total of 13 FOIA lawsuits filed by ACLU affiliates across the country. The ACLU of Indiana lawsuit is seeking records from its local U.S. Customs and Border Protection's office. In particular, the lawsuit seeks records related to CBP's implementation of President Trump's Muslim bans at Indianapolis International Airport.
The ACLU first sought this information through FOIA requests submitted to CBP on February 2. Since the government has failed to substantively respond, the ACLU is now suing.
When Donald J. Trump takes the Presidential Oath, We the People will also take an oath. The People's Oath, a social media and digital campaign gives everyone the opportunity to take their own oath to support and defend the Constitution and to signal that together we stand ready to defend and protect everyone's rights.
Please take a moment to watch the video and take the oath yourself and reach out to your family friends, colleagues, and neighbors to urge them to do the same.
Dec. 12, 2016
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division, on behalf of Mary Hazel Upton against the Town of Clarksville, Indiana, alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit challenges the city's warrantless inspections of Upton's property and two town ordinances, Indiana Code of Ordinances, Section 97.03 and Clarksville Ordinance No. 20115-G-05, which have been cited by town officials as justification for entering her property without permission and without a warrant.
Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, said "The non-consensual and warrantless inspection of our client's property is unconstitutional."
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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.