The singing ghost of Benjamin Franklin can protect you from police brutality, now that actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the Gregory Brothers (creators of the awesome Auto-Tune the News) have teamed up with the ACLU.
In this week's Rights Review, read more about how Michigan's legislature is driving away some of the brightest and best, why some laws need a good copyeditor, and how you can help protect your right to photograph and record the police in public.
Michigan Government is Still Lurking in the Bedroom.
This week, the LGBT community and fans of equality cheered as Proposition 8 was overturned in California. The move toward marriage equality seems to be gathering momentum nationwide, but Michigan has not jumped on the band wagon. In fact, we're in danger of being run over.
Jenny Oorbeck details her experience of moving back to Michigan for work after spending 14 years living in California.
Unlike California, Michigan not only doesn’t legally recognize her marriage, it doesn’t recognize her relationship to her younger son either.
Like Jenny, there are many in our state whose family relationships are still legally unrecognized in Michigan, compromising both public and private benefits and causing conundrums in family law. These laws not only create undue hardship for Michigan families, but discourage those like Jenny who want to move back to stop the brain drain by treating them like second class citizens (via the Free Press).
Rewriting Laws to Better Protect Your Free Speech.
Accuracy can be essential, especially when you're writing a law.
Back in 2009, a poorly written law resulted in police arresting an army veteran and his wife while they drove in the funeral procession of a friend because bumper stickers on their van that were critical of the Bush Administration.
We represented the couple in the lawsuit that struck down that law as a threat to free speech rights. The law was intended to prevent funerals from harassment by groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. Instead, a court ruled that the law was unconstitutionally vague and could result in individuals' free speech being censored because of viewpoint or content.
We're happy to report that legislators have been more thoughtful this time around, drafting a new law allows Michigan to protect protesters' right to free speech and mourners' right to dignity by focusing on the conduct of protesters, not their speech (via Yahoo News).
Don’t Want It Photographed? Don’t Do It in Public.
Photographers and ordinary citizens have increasingly been subject to wrongful arrest and harassment when they have recorded episodes of police brutality. In a democracy, everyone must have the right to record anyone and anything in a public space, especially the actions of public officials like police officers.
But how to convey this important point in a way that doesn't sound so... lawyer-y? The ACLU of Florida teamed up with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the Gregory Brothers (creators of the awesome Auto-Tune the News) to produce a short animated spot about Photographers Rights, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival a few weeks ago.
To maintain an open and free society, we must guarding against blatant abuses of power. Otherwise it would be far too easy for those in power to sweep away evidence of incidents of abuse, as we've seen during the Occupy Movements (via Blog of Rights).