Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958


In The Media 

Follow the links below to view ACLU of Utah press releases.

ACLU of Utah Asks the Utah Supreme Court to Invalidate State Tax Law That Censors Free Expression

15 November 2007 Published in Newsroom
 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 16, 2007  SALT LAKE CITY – Citing First Amendment violations, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Utah Supreme Court today in a case challenging a state law that imposes a substantial tax on businesses deemed to be “sexually explicit.”  “The power to tax is an awesome responsibility, and lawmakers must be careful that they do not run afoul of the Constitution by singling out particular speech or expression for taxation,” said ACLU of Utah Staff Attorney Marina Baginsky Lowe. “Unfortunately, this law does exactly that.” At issue in the case is a 2004 law that imposes a 10 percent tax on all gross income from businesses that feature “any nude or partially denuded individual.” While courts have upheld time, place, and manner restrictions on businesses featuring nude dancing, they have not allowed governments to selectively restrict that practice absent a compelling state interest. At the time the Utah State Legislature considered the law, the ACLU of Utah and others lobbied against it, warning that legislators’ unsupported assertions that there is a connection between the types of businesses targeted by the bill and sex crimes were not enough to provide…

“Torture and the Rule of Law: Three Narratives About Abu Ghraib,” A Presentation by the Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project

19 September 2007 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 20, 2007  SALT LAKE CITY -- On Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 7:30 p.m., the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah will host an event at the Gore Auditorium, Westminster College, 1840 South 1300 East. The event will feature a presentation by Jameel Jaffer on “Torture and the Rule of Law: Three Narratives About Abu Ghraib.” This presentation is free and open to the public. Jaffer is a litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of the ACLU's National Security Project.  Jaffer and ACLU attorney Amrit Singh, successfully forced the Department of Defense to release documents which exposed the widespread use of torture and other concerns regarding the treatment and detention of prisoners held by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at Guantanamo Bay, after they filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that was litigated in Federal Court. “We now possess overwhelming evidence that political and military leaders endorsed interrogation methods that violate both domestic and international law,” said Jaffer, “The documents that have been released make very clear that senior military officials and civilian leaders should be held accountable for what took place.” Jaffer's book, about the FOIA case, titled "Administration…

The Constitutional Law Section of the Utah State Bar and the ACLU of Utah Present a CLE by Jameel Jaffer Titled: “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance: From the 1976 Church Committee to the 2007 Protect America Act”

31 August 2007 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 1, 2007  SALT LAKE CITY--This breakfast CLE will be held on Friday, September 28, 2007 at 8:00 a.m. at the law firm of Snell & Wilmer. Section business, including elections for board officers, will be conducted after the CLE. Cost is $15 or $10 for section members. Please RSVP to Beth Johnson at (801) 257-1991 by September 21. Jameel Jaffer is a litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union and director of the ACLU’s National Security Program. Currently, his docket includes Doe v. Gonzales, a challenge to the FBI’s “national security letter” power; ACLU v. National Security Agency, a challenge to the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance conducted by the NSA; American Academy of Religion v. Chertoff, a challenge to the government’s refusal to grant a visa to Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan; and ACLU v. Department of Defense, litigation under the Freedom of Information Act for records concerning the treatment and detention of prisoners held by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at Guantanamo Bay. Jaffer has argued national security cases in the district and appellate courts and has testified before Congress about government surveillance. His book about ACLU v. Department of Defense, titled “Administration of Torture” and co-written with ACLU…

ACLU of Utah Welcomes Staff Attorney Marina Baginsky Lowe

30 May 2007 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 31, 2007 SALT LAKE CITY -- The ACLU of Utah is pleased to announce that it has selected Marina Baginsky Lowe as its new staff attorney. Lowe is a 2004 graduate of Hastings College of Law where she excelled in international moot court competitions and served as a teacher’s assistant. She has continued her interest in moot court by coaching law students in Jessup International Law moot court competitions for a number of years.  Before moving to Salt Lake City in 2006, Lowe was an associate with Morgan Lewis & Bockius in San Francisco for several years. Most recently, she worked for the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association in its criminal appellant division. Prior to law school, Lowe spent two years working in France with Hewlett-Packard Corporation as a marketing project manager. ACLU of Utah Executive Director Karen McCreary cited Lowe’s passion for civil liberties as one of the main reasons for her selection. “The search committee was extremely impressed by Marina’s skills, engaging personality, and strong commitment to civil liberties and the ACLU,” said McCreary. “We are very excited to have her join us.”  ###

Christopher M. Finan, President of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, to Speak at ACLU of Utah Bill of Rights Celebration

15 April 2007 Published in Newsroom
 Editorial Cartoonist Pat Bagley Will Also Be Honored at the Dinner FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 16, 2007  SALT LAKE CITY -- On Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 6:00 p.m., the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah will host its annual Bill of Rights Celebration at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City. The benefit dinner offers Utahns a chance to support the work of the ACLU of Utah Foundation and to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of civil liberties. This year’s Bill of Rights Celebration will feature special guest and speaker Christopher M. Finan. Finan is the president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), an organization established by the American Booksellers Association in 1990 to defend the First Amendment rights of booksellers and their customers. Finan has been involved in the fight against censorship for over twenty-five years. In addition to his work with ABFFE, he is chairman of the board of directors of the National Coalition Against Censorship and is a trustee of the Freedom to Read Foundation. His new book, From the Palmer Raids to the PATRIOT Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America, will be…

Planned Parenthood & ACLU Rally for Choice Utahns Need Birth Control Not Bans

11 February 2007 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 12, 2007  SALT LAKE CITY -- On Thursday, February 15 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. a rally will be held at the Utah State Capitol Plaza to oppose House Bill 235, a bill that would criminalize abortion in Utah. Today the House substituted a so-called “trigger” bill. Either way one bill would directly challenge Roe v. Wade if it is signed into law and the other would impose an abortion ban at some uncertain time in the future. Both versions violate a woman’s constitutional right to decide whether or not to have a child, which is among the most fundamental and private decisions a person can make. Instead of preventing abortion by providing access to family planning and comprehensive sex education, this legislature wants to take away a woman’s choice, a private personal and medical decision that is made by roughly 3,000 women in Utah a year. 66% of women who have abortions in Utah are mothers, mothers who have to make gut wrenching decisions for the welfare of their families. Even in a recent Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted for the Deseret Morning News and KSL-TV, 52% of Utahns oppose adopting a law that would outlaw…

ACLU of Utah Announces New Executive Director

12 November 2006 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 13, 2006 SALT LAKE CITY -- The board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah is pleased to announce that it has selected Karen McCreary, an attorney and dedicated community volunteer, to be the new executive director of the organization.  ACLU of Utah President Sue Marquardt, who served as chair of the search committee, noted that McCreary’s extensive legal and community service experience make her an ideal fit for the ACLU of Utah. “Karen’s intellect, accomplishments, enthusiasm, wide range of experience, and sense of humor are just several of the reasons for the board’s unanimous decision to choose her to direct the Utah ACLU affiliate,” said Marquardt.  McCreary’s professional legal experience includes over a dozen years as associate and senior associate general counsel for the University of Utah. She has also worked as general counsel for the Western Governors University, has been an associate attorney at a private law firm, and a judicial law clerk for Federal Court Judge David Winder.  In addition to her legal career, McCreary has been involved in a variety of service activities, including international relief work in Africa and India, migrant worker education and advocacy in Alabama, and…

Utah Court Rules Anti-Gay Amendment Doesn’t Bar Salt Lake City from Offering Domestic Partner Benefits

15 May 2006 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 16, 2006  SALT LAKE CITY –  A Utah court has ruled that its anti-gay relationship amendment, one of the most sweeping of its kind to pass in the 2004 elections, does not bar Salt Lake City from offering health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of city employees. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a lesbian employee of the Salt Lake City Police Department and the local branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), cheered the decision as an important victory for lesbian and gay couples in states with similar anti-gay relationship amendments. “The court understood correctly that laws banning gay people from marriage do not in any way bar employers from choosing to provide domestic partner benefits,” said Margaret Plane of the ACLU of Utah. “The court recognized that employers have important reasons for wanting to provide health insurance for the families of all their employees, and it’s within their rights to do so.” On September 21, 2005, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson signed an executive order extending health and other employment benefits to city employees’ same-sex and heterosexual domestic partners. The…

ACLU of Utah Files Federal Lawsuit Over Use Of Tear Gas In Utah State Prison's Mental Health Wing

12 April 2006 Published in Newsroom
Download a PDF of this release >>Download the complete complaint (PDF) >> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 4, 2013 SALT LAKE CITY—Late yesterday, the ACLU of Utah filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of a group of prisoners at the Utah State Prison. The case involves an incident in August 2011 in which corrections officers released a tear gas canister in the Olympus wing of the Utah State Prison to subdue a single prisoner. The tear gas entered the air ventilation system and seeped into cells that have no windows or bars, affecting about 150 inmates. The inmates were left to breathe the noxious gas for about 20 minutes, and many feared for their lives. The Olympus wing is the mental health wing of the prison; it also houses prisoners with severe medical conditions. The prisoners allege that corrections officers failed to answer emergency call buttons during the incident. They further allege that some officers made light of their situation during and after the incident, with some laughing about it and others discouraging complaints. The prisoners also contend that officials failed to provide them adequate physical and mental health attention after the incident. Prison officials have acknowledged that the incident…

ACLU of Utah files friend-of-the-court brief in support of domestic partner benefits for Salt Lake City employees

14 November 2005 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 10, 2005 PDF version >>   Dianna Goodliffe (right) with her partner Lisa and their daughter SALT LAKE CITY -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed a friend-of-the-court brief today in support of a Salt Lake City executive order that extends health and other employment benefits to city employees’ same-sex and unmarried heterosexual domestic partners. For Salt Lake City Police Department employee Dianna Goodliffe, the city’s executive order is welcome news. For almost six years, she has been in a committed and loving relationship with her partner Lisa, with whom she has a four-year-old daughter. “I’m so pleased that Salt Lake City recognizes that there’s really no difference between my family and the families of my married coworkers,” said Goodliffe. “Right now, my partner has benefits through her employer, but we all know how quickly that can change. Now we have the same options and opportunities as others.” One year ago, Goodliffe and her partner’s daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, making health insurance a particularly important consideration. Like all parents, Goodliffe and her partner want to do what’s best for their family, which, in the future, may include Lisa working part-time or staying at…

ACLU Delivers Patriot Act Reform Petition to Congressman Bishop

05 October 2005 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 6, 2005  PDF version >>  SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Congressman Robert Bishop received a petition from constituents today urging him to protect the modest reforms in the Senate version of Patriot Act reauthorization legislation. The petition, gathered in a joint effort between the ACLU and Working Asset's Act for Change program, is seeking his support to change some of the most controversial and secretive powers expanded by the Patriot Act, which may be voted on as early as next week. "By signing this petition, Utah residents are standing up for their civil liberties, while urging Congressman Bishop to do the same," said Dani Eyer, Executive Director of the ACLU of Utah. "The Senate version is a step in the right direction, helping to bring some parts of the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution by restoring checks and balances on government power." The Senate version revises several of the Patriot Act’s most controversial provisions. For example, the Senate bill puts a four-year sunset on the government’s ability to secretly demand library, medical, financial, or gun ownership records. The Senate bill also ensures that the government must demonstrate, to a judge, some facts warranting the…

ACLU of Utah files amicus brief on behalf of transgender employee

04 October 2005 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 5, 2005 PDF version >> SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH--The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah announced today that it has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in an important case regarding the rights of transgender employees.  The brief is on behalf of Krystal Etsitty, a former Utah Transit Authority employee, who was fired shortly after she revealed to her employers that she is a transsexual. Although UTA had received no complaints about Etsitty, her employers informed her that she was being terminated because they could not determine which restroom she should use.  Etsitty, represented by the law firm of Strindberg Scholnick & Chamness, argued in federal court that she was protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including nonconformity to sex stereotypes. In June 2005, the district court granted summary judgment to UTA, holding that transsexuals are not protected by Title VII, and that even if Title VII did apply, UTA’s decision was not based on Etsitty’s lack of conformity to sex stereotypes. Etsitty has now asked the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the district court’s decision. Etsitty, who identifies and lives as a woman, has…

Utah State Tax Commission Approves Personalized License Plates with Gay-Positive Messages

26 May 2005 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 27, 2005 PDF version >> SALT LAKE CITY--In a win for free speech, the Utah State Tax Commission has ruled that it will approve three personalized license plates with gay-positive messages. The ruling is a first for the commission, which, until this decision, had never approved a personalized plate containing the word “gay.”  In December, Elizabeth Solomon applied for three personalized license plates: “GAY WE GO,” “GAYS R OK,” and “GAY RYTS.” After the Tax Commission approved the “GAY WE GO” plate but denied the application of the latter two plates, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah represented Solomon in appealing the decision. “I have kids who are gay and I wanted these plates so that I could publicly express support for my children,” said Solomon, explaining why she applied for the personalized plates. “I’m delighted that I will now be able to do so.” Margaret Plane, ACLU of Utah staff attorney, was also pleased by the Tax Commission’s decision. “Too often, public officials are scared by the word ‘gay’ and they refuse to recognize that gays and lesbians are an increasingly public and positive part of our communities,” said Plane. “The commission rightly recognized…

ACLU of Utah Asks the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to Review the Constitutionality of the Main Street Plaza Restrictions

04 June 2001 Published in Newsroom
SALT LAKE CITY--In a case raising important questions about the future of free speech in public places, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah today asked the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the constitutionality of the restrictions Salt Lake City agreed to when it sold a central downtown block of Main Street to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.