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ACLU

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Michigan officials are fighting a court order to start delivering bottled water directly to some Flint homes.

But local activists say that water is needed now, even as the case is appealed to a higher court.

Earlier this month, federal judge David Lawson ordered the state and the city of Flint to deliver cases of bottled water to homes without working water filters.  The filters are needed to screen out lead in the drinking water.

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Like their national counterparts, organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Planned Parenthood of Michigan  have seen dramatic increases in contributions  in the week since Election Day to help them fight any efforts by the Trump administration to undermine their causes.  

"Given the very overt threats to our work and the women we serve throughout the campaign, people turned to Planned Parenthood and felt like what they could do is offer their time and their resources," said Lori Carpentier, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

ACLU Michigan

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint against a Flint-area Catholic hospital with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

The complaint says Ascension Health and its subsidiary, Genesys Health System, would not allow doctors to perform a medically necessary tubal ligation on a pregnant woman with a brain tumor.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal class action lawsuit to force fixes to Flint’s problem-plagued school district.

Flint’s public schools struggled even before the city’s lead-tainted tap water threatened to negatively affect the development of its students.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan will announce plans for a new class action lawsuit related to the Flint water crisis.

The ACLU’s new lawsuit will focus on the education rights of Flint area school-age children and what is needed to ensure their right to free and quality education.

DANIEL RAYZEL

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - Battle Creek city commissioners are scheduled to cast final votes Tuesday on ordinances aimed to regulating panhandling and loitering.

  The Battle Creek Enquirer reports  the proposals would outlaw remaining "idly" within 25 feet of an intersection and soliciting money from anyone waiting in line or near building entrances. Last month five commissioners voted in favor of the ordinances and four dissented.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report suggests it’s getting harder to get reproductive health care at Michigan hospitals.

A series of hospital mergers in recent years means more hospitals in Michigan are part of a Catholic health system.

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit the ACLU filed in 2015 against a Roman Catholic hospital group. The lawsuit challenged the hospital group’s anti-abortion policy.

Livonia-based Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

The ACLU alleges pregnant women who develop complications are being discriminated against at Trinity’s hospitals because the Catholic health group won't terminate pregnancies.

Amy Hunter is the Transgender Advocacy Project Coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan.
Cynthia Hunter

“I knew at a very young age that I was actually a woman.”

Those are the words of Amy Hunter. She is the Transgender Advocacy Project coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan ,and her story is one of the many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community that she represents.

A Flint water protest
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Before Flint's water problems were widely known to the public, Snyder administration officials spent a lot of time emailing back and forth about the city and its water. 

We wouldn't know that if the governor hadn't voluntarily released batches of emails. That’s because he and the Legislature are exempt from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

But that could change.

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As more of the nation’s attention is focused on police shootings, more police departments are putting body-worn cameras on their officers.

The idea is to improve relations and trust between police and the community.

But bodycams raise some sticky questions about balancing transparency and respecting privacy.

Late last week, I heard something disturbing from multiple sources.

They told me that Kary Moss, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, and some corporate leaders, had met with Governor Rick Snyder and asked him not to support a ballot drive to win constitutional civil protections for gay and transgender people.

When I asked her, Moss denied this. She said they had instead met with him to discuss, “the role that the business community can play in continuing to support his public commitment to this issue as well as keeping this issue in front of legislators, educating them in particular about the trans(gender) issue.”


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The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan have filed a federal lawsuit against a national Catholic health system for failure to provide women suffering pregnancy complications, including miscarriages, with appropriate emergency abortions.

The ACLU claims that the Trinity Health Corporation, which is headquartered in Michigan, violates federal law by requiring its doctors to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – instead of accepted medical practice.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A national group representing the left and right of the political spectrum is concentrating on Michigan as ripe for criminal justice changes that include releasing parolees earlier and taming law enforcement's seizure of people's assets regardless of whether charges are filed.

  The U.S. Justice Action Network comprises groups such as the liberal American Civil Liberties Union and conservative FreedomWorks. The organization's executive director, Holly Harris, has been lobbying lawmakers and hopes legislation is enacted by year's end.

If troopers think they have to increase their stop and arrest numbers, the ACLU worries that could mean more poor, black drivers get stopped
Michigan State Police

The right-leaning Mackinac Center hosted a forum Wednesday featuring the ACLU and Democratic state representative Jeff Irwin.

“Maybe it’s a little strange to have someone like myself appear at a Mackinac Center event,” Irwin told the crowd gathered, “but I think it actually just speaks to the power of this argument.”

A couple musicians who sued the city of Saugatuck over its entertainment policy will return to play this summer.

Today a federal judge okayed a settlement between Saugatuck and two musicians who want to play music for tips on city sidewalks. The policy at issue required buskers to get a permit, and it was only allowed in parks, not sidewalks. As part of the settlement, the city won’t enforce the rule.

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A federal judge says 300 gay and lesbian couples are legally married, and the state has to recognize them.

They were married on March 21, 2014. That’s the only day same-sex marriages were legal in Michigan. It was after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, and before an appeals court put that decision on hold.       

Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, says the appeals court decision did not affect the marriages that were performed.

User: West Midlands Police / Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York, there's been a national and local conversation about body-worn cameras for cops. Here in Michigan, Ann Arbor is one of the more recent communities to bring up this discussion.

The positives of these cameras are obvious: They help the public hold police officers accountable for their actions, supply evidence for potential cases of misconduct, and hopefully help to restore some of the trust in law enforcement. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union is bringing a class-action lawsuit against Muskegon County on behalf of current and former female inmates at the jail.

ACLU attorney Miriam Auckerman alleges women at the jail are forced to shower and use the toilet in front of male guards. 

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Later this morning a legislative oversight committee will discuss a new secretive cell phone tracking device the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is using.

Not much is known about the device.

It can reportedly trick nearby cell phones into providing data to the police. It can be helpful in tracking people, like missing children and fugitives, but it’s not clear how much more information is collected and what the sheriff’s department does with it.

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The ACLU is suing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on behalf of a Michigan woman. At the heart of the issue is whether women can get appropriate medical care at a Catholic hospital.

This is becoming more important because more secular hospitals are merging with Catholic-affiliated health care providers. By our count, of the 187 hospitals in Michigan, 26 of them are Catholic. That's 14%.

*Listen to our interview above.

ACLU-Michigan

Dozens of Michigan communities are getting letters from the American Civil Liberties Union warning them that their anti-panhandling laws may be unconstitutional.

Over the summer, a federal appeals court ruled Michigan’s anti-panhandling law was unconstitutional. 

Brian D. Hawkins / Creative Commons

Two men who successfully fought the state's panhandling law after being arrested in Grand Rapids in 2011 for panhandling will each get more than $6,000 as part of a $48,000 settlement with the city.

Judges on the 6th circuit court of appeals called the state law prohibiting panhandling unconstitutional, because it was overly broad and infringed on the right to free speech.

Gerri Trager / Flickr

The nonprofit group that manages Detroit's riverfront walkway says its restrictions on organized activities including protests are reasonable.

The Detroit River Front Conservancy on Thursday released a statement after the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this week said the group was violating the First Amendment by preventing people from holding protests. The conservancy says that's not the case.

The ACLU said a security guard ordered a small group of people taking part in an anti-war march along the Detroit River Walk last summer to stop. The ACLU said that that violated the free speech rights of the group Women in Black, and it asked the conservancy to change its policy.

Women in Black said it wants to march at the river Saturday afternoon. The conservancy said Thursday it welcomes the planned march.

CNN

Civil libertarians are calling on the U.S. Justice Department to expand a probe into the Saginaw Police Department.

The Justice Department has been examining the case of Milton Hall. He's a mentally ill homeless man who was gunned down by six Saginaw police officers as he threatened them with a knife.

The case has raised questions about how the department deals with African-Americans.

Mark Fancher is with the American Civil Liberties Union. He says his office has received several allegations that Saginaw police officers operate in a racially biased manner.

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State of Michigan will re-count Detroit ballots
A state election panel will be tasked with certifying the results from the Detroit mayoral primary.  This comes after the Wayne County election board refused to certify the votes.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that the county will have to pay the costs of having the state re-tabulate the ballots. 

FBI may continue to use demographic information
A federal appeals court has sided with the FBI in a case about racial and ethnic mapping.  The Detroit chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit against the FBI because it refuses to share information about its use of demographic data in investigations.  Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller reports that “a federal appeals court says the FBI is allowed to withhold some information so that criminals and terrorists don't know what the bureau is looking into.”

Occupy comes to Kalamazoo
The Occupy movement is back in Michigan this week.  Activists from around the country will take over a park in downtown Kalamazoo to bring attention to issues ranging from the economy to racism.  Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports that “unlike other Occupy events, the activists say no one will be sleeping overnight in Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park.”

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State Senate delays road legislation

Leaders in the state Senate say that plans to fix Michigan roads aren't likely to appear on the November ballot.  Governor Rick Snyder has pushed to raise registration fees and gas taxes to pay for road repairs.  Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that lawmakers are instead favoring an increased sales tax to raise the money. 

Michigan's panhandling ban overturned

Yesterday a federal appeals court struck down Michigan's ban on panhandling. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit in 2011 on behalf of two Grand Rapids men who had been repeatedly penalized for begging in public.  Michigan Radio's Mark Brush reports the court ruled that "begging, panhandling, or asking for money in a public place is protected as free speech under the First Amendment."

Fate of new Wayne County jail debated

Wayne County officials are considering scrapping a half-finished jail construction.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that Governor Rick Snyder is pushing for the county to stop the project, sell the property, and lease an older state-owned jail facility.  The Detroit Free Press also reports that the Wayne County Building Authority is considering firing the project manager who authorized "more than $42 million in major changes without the needed written approval of the Building Authority."

Support for teacher Brooke Harris Facebook Page

One year ago, Brooke Harris made headlines when she was fired from her teaching job in Flint for helping students create a fundraiser for the family of Trayvon Martin.

Now, Harris is in trouble with another employer.

Earlier this month, she was fired from her teaching position at Detroit's Mumford High School. That's one of the schools under the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). It's a new state-run district that oversees the lowest-performing schools in Detroit.

As virtually everyone knows, a bill making Michigan a Right-to-Work state was rammed through the legislature in a single day during a so-called lame-duck session last December.

Not only were there were no committee hearings and no real debate: The Capitol Building in Lansing was closed to the public for what were said to be “safety reasons.”

The way in which this bill was passed has sparked a great deal of outrage, not all of it from groups automatically opposed to right to work legislation. The law, by the way, outlaws the so-called union shop, and means no worker can be forced to join or pay a fee to be represented by a union, in any public or private industry.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

House passes welfare reform bills

“The state House has passed bills to revoke welfare benefits based on drug use and persistent school absences. One bill would allow suspicion-based drug testing, which could lead to families losing their cash assistance ... Another measure would allow suspicion-based drug testing of welfare recipients ... The bill got bi-partisan support in the House,” Jake Neher reports.

ACLU files suit against Grand Rapids police

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Grand Rapids authorities for routinely making unconstitutional arrests for trespassing on property of businesses open to the public.

“ACLU Attorney Miriam Aukerman says city police have long urged businesses to sign a ‘letter of intent to prosecute trespassers.’ Then, they use that letter as an excuse to arrest people they decide are trespassing on business properties,” Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports.

Gary Peters officially announces run for Senate

Three-term Democratic Congressman Gary Peters became the first major candidate to kick off a campaign for Michigan’s soon-to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat. The seat will be left empty after Senator Carl Levin steps down in 2014. Several Republican candidates are also considering running.

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