ACLU

Politics & Government
4:54 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Michigan Secretary of State sued for denying driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants

Michigan Sheriffs' Association

The ACLU of Michigan is suing Secretary of State Ruth Johnson over her decision to deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants with work permits granted under a new federal-deferred action plan.

The suit was brought on behalf of three young immigrants and One Michigan, a youth-led advocacy group.

There are approximately 15,000 young people in Michigan who are eligible for the federal program.

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Law
1:01 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

ACLU sues Isabella County for overcrowding in jail

Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski
isabellacounty.org

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a class action lawsuit against Isabella County.

It says the county jail violates the constitutional rights of inmates with cells that are too crowded, and too few opportunities to exercise.

The federal lawsuit also says the jail discriminates against female inmates because they can’t participate in work assignments that could reduce their sentences.   

ACLU attorney Sarah Mehta filed the lawsuit.

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Politics & Government
7:26 am
Fri October 19, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

ACLU files challenge to state ruling banning election signs in bars and restaurants

"The American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal challenge to a state rule banning election campaign signs at bars and restaurants Thursday. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission rule forbids businesses with liquor licenses from displaying signs endorsing a political candidate or party," Jake Neher reports.

Rapid transit system to be built in Grand Rapids

"Michigan’s first bus rapid transit system will be built in the Grand Rapids area. Federal transportation officials signed the agreement Thursday. Bus rapid transit operates similar to light rail, but at a fraction of the cost. Buses will arrive at stops every ten minutes. They’ll have designated lanes and be able to shift traffic lights so they don’t have to slow down," Lindsey Smith reports.

Expansion of oil pipeline comes under fire in northern Michigan

"A planned expansion of an oil pipeline that passes through the Mackinac Straits is coming under fire. The National Wildlife Federation released a report opposing Enbridge Energy’s plans to increase the amount of oil passing through the straits. Beth Wallace is with the Federation. She fears the nearly 60 year old pipeline could rupture like another Enbridge pipeline near Marshall did in 2010. An Enbridge spokesman says the Calgary-based oil company is reviewing the Federation report," Steve Carmody reports.

Politics & Government
7:06 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

ACLU sues Morgan Stanley on behalf of 5 Detroit homeowners

An abandoned home in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Consumer Law Center and others have sued investment bank giant Morgan Stanley on behalf of five black Detroit homeowners.

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Education
11:42 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Students go back to class as plaintiffs against their school system

As part of the lawsuit, attorneys had the plaintiffs submit writing samples. This plaintiff, I.D., is going into the 5th grade. According to the legal complaint, she has never been assigned to write anything longer than one paragraph.

Eight Highland Park school students returned to classes this week as plaintiffs against a school system they say has failed them. Their families and the ACLU say the school district and the state have  denied them the right to learn to read.

“It’s heartbreaking every day when you get up and people look in your face and say: oh, that’s that lady, her daughter can’t read,” says Michelle Johnson. Her daughter is heading into the 12th grade. But she can only read at about a fourth-grade level.

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Law
5:34 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Wyoming will appeal court’s decision overruling city’s medical marijuana ban

John Ter Beek sued the City of Wyoming over the medical marijuana ban. He's pictured in his small grow room in the basement of his Wyoming home in 2010.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming will appeal a judge’s ruling that overturned its ban of medical marijuana. Wyoming is one of a handful of Michigan cities with an outright medical marijuanna ban. Others have instituted zoning restrictions.

Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt says city council worries that medical marijuana will increase crime and cause confusion for police.

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Law
5:17 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Panhandler who won free speech case arrested anyway, for panhandling

A federal judge in Grand Rapids ruled a Michigan law banning panhandling is unconstitutional.
Brian D. Hawkins Creative Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is urging local governments to review their laws regarding panhandling in light of a federal ruling handed down last week.

A federal judge ruled a state law banning panhandling in public places is unconstitutional.

But ACLU staff attorney Miriam Aukerman says one of her clients in that case, James Speet, was arrested for panhandling in Kentwood anyway.

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Law
2:52 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Benton Harbor tickets protestors for being too noisy, ACLU asks judge to dismiss

Sean Crawford was ticketed for violating Benton Harbor's noise ordinance during a protest in May. He pictured here with the sign and bike horn he used during the protest.
ACLU

The ACLU is asking a Berrien County judge to dismiss charges against three protestors who were ticketed for being too noisy during the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor last May.

The three were taking part in a larger protest against the golf championship, the development of a city park, and the city’s emergency manager.

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Law
3:15 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Schuette: Teen lifers don’t deserve re-sentencing

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette Facebook.com

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says hundreds of juveniles sentenced to life without parole for murder or complicity in a murder should not get re-sentencing hearings.

Schuette says a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Michigan’s mandatory life without parole law for juveniles should only apply to future cases. He has asked the state Supreme Court to limit the scope of the federal decision.

Randy Wood is a spokesman for the attorney general. He says Schuette believes re-sentencing hearings would be a mistake.

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Commentary
11:47 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Commentary: Right to read?

The ACLU filed a lawsuit yesterday that may change the entire conversation we’ve been having about education, in this state and perhaps beyond. Their focus is on the battered and impoverished little enclave city of Highland Park, which is embedded within Detroit.

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Education
2:20 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

ACLU sues on behalf of Highland Park Schools students' 'right to read'

user ppdigital MorgueFile.com

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of more than 950 Highland Park Public Schools students and their parents, claiming children aren't receiving an adequate reading education.

ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss told reporters at a news conference Thursday the lawsuit is about the "right of children to read."

The suit against the state and others seeks class-action status.

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Business
1:42 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Protecting your social media privacy (from your boss)

State lawmakers are discussing whether to limit employers' ability to demand passwords to social media sites.

A bill would bar companies from asking employees or job applicants to hand over passwords to their Twitter, Facebook or other accounts.

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Crime
2:26 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

New report highlights challenges for Michigan's juvenile lifers

user FatMandy flickr

Teen offenders in Michigan are worse off than teens in other states.

That's according to a new report from Michigan-based Second Chances 4 Youth and the state chapter of the ACLU

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Crime
5:00 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

It’s now against the law to lie to police officers in Michigan

user GPDII wikimedia commons

According to a new state law signed today, it's now illegal to lie or conceal facts from Michigan police officers who are investigating a crime.

The law says people do not give up their right to remain silent, but if they do talk, they have to tell the truth.

Sergeant Dwayne Gill is with the Michigan State Police.

“This law kind of mirrors the federal law on lying to federal agents. When we’re interviewing individuals, it’s a tool that law enforcement can use to elicit the truth in investigating crimes.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union says the law appears to be constitutional.

But a spokesperson says the ACLU is concerned about unintended consequences -- such as people not reporting crimes, or witnesses who refuse to cooperate with authorities because they’re afraid of being charged if they make a mistake.

Politics
4:57 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Lawsuit alleges ICE agents illegally detained, assaulted Grand Rapids residents

The ACLU and the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center have filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Luis Valdez and his mother Telma Valdez. Telma was born in Guatemala but is a legal, permanent U.S. resident. Her son Luis is a U.S. citizen.

The lawsuit alleges ICE agents illegally detained the two in February of last year when Valdez and his mother pulled up to a relative’s home in Grand Rapids for a visit. He says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers approached them with their guns drawn.

It’s alleged the agents illegally detained and interrogated the two; even after they produced proof they are legal U.S. residents.  

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Politics
5:08 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

ACLU condemns invasive strip searches at women's prison

Michigan Department of Corrections

 The Michigan American Civil Liberties Union is criticizing Michigan’s only women’s prison for conducting invasive strip searches.

The ACLU says the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility uses invasive body cavity searches after family visits, whether or not they believe a woman is hiding contraband.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled law enforcement officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense before admitting them to jails.

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Crime
3:53 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Michigan State Police investigate allegations of "racial profiling" in traffic stop

user GPDII wikimedia commons

The Michigan State Police is opening an internal investigation into a traffic stop that has raised allegations of racial profiling.

The ACLU called on the Michigan State Police to look into the February traffic stop of an American citizen of Mexican descent.

During the traffic stop in Livonia, the ACLU claims the state trooper interrogated about the man about his immigration status, apparently not believing the man’s claims that he is a naturalized citizen.

The driver was handcuffed, threatened with deportation and federal immigration agents were called.

The man was eventually released after his claim of being a legal U.S. citizen was confirmed.

In a written statement, the head of the Michigan State police says the department “expects its members to perform their duties in a professional and impartial manner”, adding the department does not condone “bias profiling”.

Education
4:44 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Michigan's 'Prop 2' going before a federal court on Wednesday

The U.S. Circuit Court in Cincinnati will hear arguments tomorrow about Michigan's constitutional amendment barring state universities from considering an applicant’s race in college admissions.

Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved ‘proposition 2’ in 2006. The amendment bars state colleges and other publicly funded institutions from considering an applicant’s minority status.

Mark Rosenbaum is with the American Civil Liberties Union. He says Prop 2 violates the U.S. Constitution by forbidding the consideration of race, while other factors like whether a college applicant’s parent is an alumnus, are still permitted.

“That’s un-American because it removes ‘racial identity’ from the vocabulary of a democracy," says Rosenbaum.  

Last year, a federal appellate court ruled against Prop 2.  Joy Yearout is with the Michigan Attorney General’s office.  She says the Attorney General finds a serious problem with that ruling.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals said that by banning racial discrimination it somehow perpetuates discrimination," says Yearout, "And if that sounds crazy to you, there’s a reason.  It just doesn’t make any sense.”

The case may eventually end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Politics
4:45 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan ACLU fights anti-begging law

Annie Green Springs Flickr

Michigan’s law against peaceful begging in public was challenged in federal court this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman says peaceful begging is protected speech under the First  Amendment.

“Begging is not a crime, asking for help is not a crime, being poor is not a crime. There’s been so much economic turmoil, and penalizing poor people because they need help is wrong….and unconstitutional.”

James Speet says he’s been arrested at least eight times in the Grand Rapids area for holding up a sign that reads “Need job… God bless.”

Speet, who’s often homeless, says he never hassles people.

“I don’t approach anybody unless I’m called over to them, by them. That way there’s never no people feeling like I’m being aggressive toward them, or anything like that. I let them come to me.”

The ACLU of Michigan says the Grand Rapids Police Department has arrested nearly 400 people for peaceful begging since 2008.

Science/Medicine
1:01 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Michigan's medical marijuana patients may be affected by case before the state's highest court

The Michigan Supreme Court
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Supreme Court today will consider a case that affects the 131,000 medical marijuana patients in Michigan. The case centers on where patients can grow their marijuana.   

Larry Steven King grew his medical marijuana plants in a locked dog kennel at his home in Owosso. King has a medical marijuana card. But police charged him with growing marijuana illegally. The kennel did not have roof.  

Prosecutors say that means it did not meet the state requirement for an ‘enclosed, locked facility’ . 

Attorney John Minock represents Larry King. Minock says the problem is with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, which he says is vague on what exactly an ‘enclosed, locked facility’ actually entails.   

“Larry was trying to comply with the law, as he understood it," says Minock, "The law on this area is not really clear.” The case split the lower courts. The trial court dismissed the charges, finding that the marijuana had been stored properly. But the Court of Appeals sided with prosecutors that the kennel did not meet the law’s requirements.

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