Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Major Reproductive Rights Victory in Texas

A federal judge has blocked key parts of Texas' new abortion law, which would have been one of the strictest in the nation.  Overbrook Foundation grantee The Center for Reproductive Rights sued to overturn the measure, which Gov. Rick Perry (who's now leading the pack of Republican presidential nominees) called an "emergency item."  Earlier this summer, the Center filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Texas abortion providers, then requested a preliminary injunction.  The Center argued the law violated doctors' First Amendment rights by requiring them to deliver politically-motivated messages to female patients.  The measure would have forced doctors to show patients ultrasound images of the fetus before the abortion, and require patients to listen to the fetal heartbeat.  Patients could only opt out of seeing the images by signing a statement, declaring they had become pregnant through incest or sexual assault.   Yesterday, Judge Sam Sparks struck down both of these key provisions.  The ruling underscores the continuing need to fight for women's reproductive rights in states where they remain under attack.  For more details, click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Jersey Leads the Way on Witness ID Reform

New Jersey's Supreme Court has ordered reforms in the use of witness identification as testimony in criminal prosecutions which will very likely have implications for reform across the states and federal judicial systems. Congratulations to The Innocence Project for laying the groundwork that has led to this very important court ordered reform

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Work of the Innocence Project Challenges Reliability of Eyewitness IDs

Of the first 250 DNA exonerations achieved, 190 involved eyewitnesses who were wrong.

Many of those witnesses were as certain as they were wrong. “There is absolutely no question in my mind,” said one. Another was “120 percent” sure. A third said, “That is one face I will never forget.” A fourth allowed for a glimmer of doubt: “This is the man, or it is his twin brother.”

In November, the Supreme Court will return to the question of what the Constitution has to say about the use of eyewitness evidence. We should be grateful to the unrelenting efforts of The Innocence Project which has led the way in documenting the failure of eyewitness identification

Friday, August 19, 2011

Human Rights Victory after Defeat in U.S. Supreme Court

The ACLU has won a landmark case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission determined that the U.S. had failed to protect the rights of a mother and her three deceased children, the victims of a horrific act of domestic violence. This victory dramatically demonstrates the potential for human rights advocacy within the U.S. to protect, defend and advance the rights of those unable to obtain justice in the U.S. court system.