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Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

Articles, Resources, and Position Papers

Following is a partial list of ACLU of Utah articles, resources and position papers. Additional materials can be found on our issue pages.

Staff Changes At the ACLU of Utah

09 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Amy O’Connor, Development Director Amy joined our staff in April as development director with more than 25 years of nonprofit experience.  After earning a master’s degree in biology from the University of Utah, she directed the membership growth and outreach of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance from 1988 to 1996. She started her own consulting business and served hundreds of non-profits as an organization development consultant through 2013. We are delighted to have Amy join our staff with her wealth of professional experience and passion for a more just society. Anna Brower, Public Policy Advocate Anna has been with the ACLU of Utah since 2007. Prior to her recent transition to this policy role, she served as our development director for six years. Before joining the ACLU, Anna worked extensively in the non-profit and public sectors in Denver, Colo. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Denver, and will complete the University of Utah’s Executive MPA program in August 2014. Her focus includes the prison relocation, the state’s system-wide review of criminal justice practices, advocating for female prisoners, and pushing for reforms to the use of solitary confinement in Utah. Kathy Abarca, Racial Justice Project Associate Kathy first joined the…

Court Orders Recognition of Marriages, State Appeals

08 July 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >> On May 19, the federal judge in Evans v. Utah ordered the state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married in Utah after a federal court struck down a state ban, but before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted additional marriages from taking place. Over 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah during that time period. The Evans case was brought by four married same sex couples represented by the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project, the ACLU of Utah, and Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC. While the Tenth Circuit temporarily put the judge’s order on hold, we are hopeful that the hold will be brief. “Our clients, like over 1,000 other same-sex couples, were legally married and those marriages cannot now be taken away from them,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. “We are confident that the appellate court will uphold the district court’s well reasoned and thorough order making that clear.” In his ruling, Judge Dale A. Kimball wrote: “The State has placed Plaintiffs and their families in a state of legal limbo with respect to adoptions, child care and…

War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

23 June 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
A new ACLU report shows that excessive police militarization is a nationwide trend, and the time has come to deescalate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Utah

16 March 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Print out a pdf of these questions >> Can same-sex couples currently get married in Utah? No. Although many same-sex couples married after the district court struck down Utah’s marriage bans as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court stayed that decision while it is being appealed by Utah later this year before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. This means that Utah’s prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples was put back into place and that additional marriage licenses will not be issued to same-sex couples while the appeal is being heard. More information regarding Kitchen v. Herbert and its ongoing appeal can be found here >> What are the benefits that generally come from marriage? There are a variety of federal and state benefits that are accorded to married couples. There are 1,138 benefits, rights, and protections provided on the basis of marital status in federal law. Federal benefits for married couples include benefits in social security, taxes, immigration, federal employee benefits, and many others. Benefits that come from state recognition of marriages include adoption rights, property rights, inheritance rights, employment benefits, and others. I was married in Utah between December 20, 2013 and January 6, 2014. Am I now eligible for…

You Have Every Right to Photograph That Cop

24 February 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right — and that includes the outside of federal buildings, as well as transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. However, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs or video in public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply. The ACLU, photographer's groups, and others have been complaining about such incidents for years — and consistently winning in court. Yet, a continuing stream of incidents of illegal harassment of photographers and videographers makes it clear that the problem is not going away. Read more >>

Court Says Utah Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional

19 February 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Liberty Reporter: The 2014 Winter Newsletter >> The ACLU and ACLU of Utah became involved in the emotional rollercoaster of a lawsuit, Kitchen v. Herbert, on October 17, 2013 when we submitted a “friend of the court” brief in support of the plaintiffs. In Kitchen v. Herbert, plaintiffs challenge Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. The challenge to the Utah ban was brought by three Utah couples. These couples are Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity; Karen Archer and Kate Call; and Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge and were represented by the law firm of Magleby & Greenwood. These couples were either married in Utah or were legally married somewhere else and wanted their home state to recognize their marriage. In the brief written by the ACLU and ACLU of Utah, we argued that the Kitchen v. Herbert lawsuit called for a heightened level of scrutiny to be used when examining laws that discriminate against same-sex couples and their families. We argued that sexual orientation is a quasi-suspect classification that calls for scrutiny higher than rational-basis. Rational-basis is the lowest level of scrutiny that only requires a law to be reasonably related to serving a legitimate government interest. On December 20th 2013,…

Powerful and Unaccountable: Utah’s Broken Internal Affairs Process

19 February 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Liberty Reporter: The 2014 Winter Newsletter >> In late August 2013, the ACLU of Utah began a study of twelve police departments from all over Utah. The study was modeled after a study by the ACLU of Connecticut which studied the complaint process of police departments. The goal for our study was to evaluate the situation of the complaint process of police officers in Utah. The sample group included departments that were diverse in location and size. When an encounter between a civilian and a police officer goes wrong the complaint process is the beginning of repairing the relationship between the public and the police. The complaint process can also be the first step in discrimination, deterrence, and intimidation if departments do not put enough care into creating and enforcing fair policies. The effort to maintain a fair complaint process benefits the police departments’ reputation and allows for opportunities to correct mistakes made by officers before they become habits. In the course of our research, a variety of problems became clear. Concerns over accessibility came from several issues. In many jurisdictions it took multiple calls to to gather all of the information needed. Out of twelve departments surveyed, 50% required…

Victory! Free Speech Returns To Utah’s State Roads

19 February 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
 Liberty Reporter: The 2014 Winter Newsletter >> iMatter Utah v. UDOT In November of 2013, the federal court in Utah made it clear that the First Amendment and the fight for freedom of speech are alive and well. The federal district court struck down the Utah Department of Transportation’s insurance and indemnification requirements, for those seeking permits to march on state highways, as unconstitutional. This is a true victory and rids Utah of the “two-tiered system” described to by Stewart Gollan of the Utah Legal Clinic. “UDOT’s insurance requirements created a two tiered system for speakers: those who could afford insurance could march on the street, and those without the means to pay were relegated to the sidewalk,” said Stewart Gollan. The case we brought in 2011, when the ACLU of Utah and the Utah Legal Clinic sued the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) on behalf of members and supporters of iMatter Utah. iMatter Utah is a local youth-driven organization that works to encourage public discussion on climate change and initiate action. Members of iMatter Utah were organizing, as they called it, a Marade (a parade and march). Their plan was to march from the federal building at 125 South…

Victory! Utah Supreme Court Vacates Gang Injunction

19 February 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Liberty Reporter: The 2014 Winter Newsletter >>  Weber Co v. Ogden Trece The ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorneys from Parr Brown Gee & Loveless and Richards & Pace, were victorious in the Weber Co v. Ogden Trece case. On October 18, 2013, the Utah Supreme Court vacated the unconstitutional Ogden “gang injunction” because Weber County violated Utah’s rules regarding service of process. Service of process is crucial because it ensures that the party being sued has proper notice of the lawsuit and an opportunity to be heard. Weber County violated the rules because it sued Ogden Trece as an unincorporated association, thus seeking to bind hundreds of alleged members without having to name them, but did not follow Utah rules to serve such an organization. Rather, the trial court improperly allowed the County to follow California procedure, which differs from Utah’s. Because of this serious error, the Utah Supreme Court found that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the Ogden Trece and required that the injunction be vacated. We opposed this unjust injunction, which originated in 2010, because of its many unconstitutional provisions and its grant of overbroad powers to police. The injunction contained unlawful limits on the…

On The Hill

19 February 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Liberty Reporter: The 2014 Winter Newsletter >> During the legislative session, things move very rapidly. To find out the latest about our legislative agenda and see which bills we are supporting or opposing visit our website www.acluutah.org/legislation, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. The 2014 General Session is shaping up to be an interesting one, with issues such as freedom of religion and LGBTQ rights taking center stage. Various proposals related to criminal justice will also be a key focus of our work up at the Capitol. Criminal Justice/Fourth Amendment Drones - The ACLU of Utah has been actively involved in the discussion around drone use in our state, including participating on the Governor’s Advisory Board on Unmanned Ariel Systems, to advocate for privacy protection. We are working with a legislator and other advocacy groups to advance legislation to regulate drone use in our state, particularly when used as a law enforcement tool. No-knock warrant reform - All too often, the military-style tactics used by law enforcement result in harm to officers and their targets and family and friends. The ACLU of Utah has been working with legislators and advocacy groups to draft legislation to place greater limits…

Fighting To End Marriage Limbo

19 February 2014 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Liberty Reporter: The 2014 Winter Newsletter >> “After 13 years together, we just want the security and peace of mind to know we can be there for each other in the hard times, ” - Plaintiff Stacia Ireland ACLU demands Utah honor marriages of over 1,000 same-sex couples. On January 21, 2014, the ACLU of Utah, along with the law firm of Strindberg & Scholnick LLC and the ACLU LGBT Project, brought a lawsuit to ensure that Utah honors the marriages of Utah same-sex couples. We brought the case, called Evans v. Utah, on behalf of four couples who legally married in Utah in the hours and days after a federal court struck down Utah’s ban on allowing same-sex couples to marry.   On December 20, 2013, the federal district court in Kitchen v. Herbert enjoined Utah from enforcing its marriage bans. Immediately, a flood of same-sex couples converged on Utah’s county offices, finally able to express their love and commitment to each other through marriage. The flow of couples fortifying their families through the protection and responsibilities that come from being legally married continued at record pace- it is estimated that at least 1,000 married- up to the moment…

Conoce tus Derechos: ¿Estas enfrentando una suspensión o expulsión?

20 November 2013 Published in La ACLU de Utah en español
Conoce tus Derechos: ¿Estas enfrentando una suspensión o expulsión? (PDF)

Unleashed and Unaccountable: The FBI's Unchecked Abuse of Authority

17 September 2013 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The new national ACLU report "Unleashed and Unaccountable: The FBI's Unchecked Abuse of Authority" documents the extraordinary expansion of FBI power over the last 12 years.

Time to Rein in the Surveillance State

29 August 2013 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The ACLU has been at the forefront of the struggle to rein in the surveillance superstructure, which strikes at the core of our rights to privacy, free speech, and association. Here's some of what the national ACLU is doing to roll back the surveillance state.

The ACLU of Utah Has a New Website

20 August 2013 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Launched on August 21, the ACLU of Utah's new website will provide an upgraded platform that is easier to navigate and search. It features integrated web functions such as links to our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages, as well as a national ACLU newsfeed. It will still take several weeks to complete the migration of over 15 years of online archived material and pages. If you find links that do not work, please take a moment to email aclu@acluutah so that we may fix those quickly. Feel free to email us and let us know what you think of our new site too!

After DOMA: What it Means For You

26 June 2013 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
"After DOMA: What it Means For You" LGBT Organizations Fact Sheet Series details many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples. The guide includes 14 factsheets on the following topics: Bankruptcy, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Federal Employee Benefits, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Immigration, Medicaid, Medicare, Military Spousal Benefits, Private Employment Benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Taxes, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Veteran Spousal Benefits. Read more  

Frequently Asked Questions about Utah’s HB 497, “Show Me Your Papers” Law

04 July 2012 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Download a PDF of this information sheet >> During the 2011 General Session, the Utah State Legislature passed a “package” of laws addressing immigration. Included in the package are HB 497 “Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act”, HB 116 “Utah Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Amendments”, HB 466 “Migrant Workers and Related Commission Amendments”, and HB 469 “Utah Pilot Sponsored Resident Immigrant Program”. Both HB 116 and HB 469 have an effective date of 2013 and are unlikely to ever take effect because they violate Article III of the U.S. Constitution. HB 466, (the guest worker bill) which establishes a partnership between the Mexican State of Nuevo Leon and the State of Utah is constrained by the federal limitation on visas. Therefore, of these four laws, only HB 497, with an effective date of July 2011 would be implemented and have an immediate negative impact on our community. The ACLU of Utah initiated a lawsuit in May, arising out of the unconstitutionality of HB 497, also known as the “show me your papers law”. A federal district court judge quickly granted a temporary restraining order, prohibiting enforcement of HB 497. There will be a hearing for a preliminary injunction in February 2012.…

Slamming the Courthouse Doors: Denial of Access to Justice and Remedy in America

09 December 2011 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Actions of the executive, federal legislative, and judicial branches of the United States have seriously restricted access to justice for victims of civil liberties and human rights violations, and have limited the availability of effective (or, in some cases, any) remedies for these violations. Weakened judicial oversight and recent attempts to limit access to justice by attacking plaintiffs’ and defendants’ standing, discovery rights and the courts’ jurisdiction, are denying victims of human rights violations their day in court and protecting responsible officials and corporations from litigation. Over the last decade, there has been a serious erosion in the ability of, among others, immigrants, prisoners, and detainees in the “war on terror” to use the writ of habeas corpus in U.S. courts to challenge the constitutionality of their ongoing detention, significantly circumscribing the availability of a most potentially significant remedy. For example, federal legislation, most prominently the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), and Supreme Court decisions, have greatly limited access to federal review of state court death penalty convictions. Read more on ACLU.org >>

Frequently Asked Questions about Utah’s HB 497, “Show Me Your Papers” Law

22 October 2011 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Down load a PDF of this sheet >> During the 2011 General Session, the Utah State Legislature passed a “package” of laws addressing immigration. Included in the package are HB 497 “Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act”, HB 116 “Utah Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Amendments”, HB 466 “Migrant Workers and Related Commission Amendments”, and HB 469 “Utah Pilot Sponsored Resident Immigrant Program”. Both HB 116 and HB 469 have an effective date of 2013 and are unlikely to ever take effect because they violate Article III of the U.S. Constitution. HB 466, (the guest worker bill) which establishes a partnership between the Mexican State of Nuevo Leon and the State of Utah is constrained by the federal limitation on visas. Therefore, of these four laws, only HB 497, with an effective date of July 2011 would be implemented and have an immediate negative impact on our community. The ACLU of Utah initiated a lawsuit in May, arising out of the unconstitutionality of HB 497, also known as the “show me your papers law”. A federal district court judge quickly granted a temporary restraining order, prohibiting enforcement of HB 497. There will be a hearing for a preliminary injunction in February 2012.…

Failing Gideon: Utah’s Flawed County-By-County Public Defender System

23 August 2011 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
ACLU of Utah Issues Report Detailing Chronic Underfunding, Other Systemic Failures in Public Defender Services