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Articles, Resources, and Position Papers

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



KYR sq 350Know Your Rights

View the ACLU of Utah's latest "Know Your Rights" Advisories on a variety of common topics. Click on the image at right.

Social Media Blocking Toolkit

04 January 2021 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Every January a new crop of elected officials sets up official social accounts to connect to their constituents... and we have to remind they can't block people for criticizing them. Has an elected representative blocked you on social media?If your answer is "yes," you've come to the right place. 

Spring 2020 - Meet Valentina De Fex

09 November 2020 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The ACLU of Utah’s newest staff member is an attorney with a passion for immigrant justice. Although Valentina De Fex joined the ACLU of Utah staff in early April as our first Immigrants’ Rights Legal Fellow and fifteenth full-time employee, she has yet to set foot in the Salt Lake City office. Instead, she began her tenure with the ACLU by working remotely from Portland, Ore., where, for the last 18 months, she has engaged in direct legal representation for clients who are immigrants. Despite the intervening 750 miles, Valentina already has made her presence and expertise felt through numerous video conference calls where she has offered input on how immigration issues permeate the current civil liberties conversations—from pandemic response to voting rights to criminal justice. “I am excited to join the ACLU of Utah where my priorities will be ensuring that immigrants’ rights are both recognized and protected,” she said during an interview via FaceTime. “I also want to increase the understanding of how the criminal justice system serves as another tool of immigration enforcement.” Valentina earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania, where she double majored in political science and diplomatic history. Her first professional exposure…

Spring 2020 - Privacy Still Matters

09 November 2020 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Privacy Still Matters We will remain vigilant against state surveillance that violates personal privacy. On April 10, thousands of motorists entering Utah at nine border crossings received a text message directing them to complete a government survey with their personal details and any potential exposure to COVID-19. But just three days later, the state cancelled the project after wayward text messages clogged the phones of people sitting in their kitchens miles from a state border. Utah’s failed attempt at wireless “gate-keeping” received wider attention after the National ACLU republished our blog post about it (see link at right). But we also realize the state’s keenness to use surveillance technology to tackle COVID-19 is just beginning. On April 22, state officials began promoting the “Healthy Together” app that uses location tracking to accelerate contact tracing. As more issues arise, the ACLU of Utah will evaluate each new development and defend the importance of privacy—even during a time of pandemic. …from the Spring 2020 Liberty Reporter

Spring 2020 - Election Day in Weber County

09 November 2020 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
How does the ACLU of Utah protect ballot access?Our Voting Rights Coordinator Nikila Venugopal explains. On the day of Utah’s presidential primary election, March 3, I found myself standing in the chilly morning air outside an empty library with just a clipboard, pen, and a couple of homemade signs. And I was several miles from the nearest polling place. Was I in the wrong place? No, but over the next 12 hours I would meet many frustrated Utah voters who were. Four weeks earlier, the ACLU of Utah had learned that the Weber County Clerk planned to open only one of the usual six in-person polling places for the primary election. Despite the county’s emphasis on mail-in ballots, we were concerned this change would disenfranchise many Weber County residents, especially rural and low-income voters, people needing language assistance or disability accommodations to cast a ballot, and those wanting to register to vote on Election Day. In response, I recruited a team of volunteers to stand in front of every library where Weber County residents had previously been able to cast an in-person ballot. Starting early in the morning, our teams re-directed hundreds of confused voters while tallying their frustrations. Sadly,…

2020 Utah Voter Empowerment Guide

11 June 2020 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
  The ACLU doesn't endorse or oppose any candidate or party, but we believe voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and a fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest. This information is designed to help you protect your own right to vote. 

Know Your Rights: Protest and Engage in Other Free Speech Activities in Utah

02 June 2020 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Download a PDF of this pamphlet >>  Where can I protest?   Public forums: You have a constitutionally protected right to engage in peaceful protest in public forums such as streets, sidewalks, or parks. You may also be able to protest in front of government buildings and the legislature. Salt Lake County has designated protest zones, areas that are specifically designated for public demonstrations and protests. There may be restrictions on the time, place, and manner of how your exercise your free speech rights. However, these restrictions must serve a substantial government interest (like traffic safety), and they must be narrowly tailored to serve that interest. They also may not unreasonably limit alternate avenues of expression. Finally, the government may not place greater restrictions on anyone because of their point of view.

Endgame for Operation Rio Grande

04 November 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
 As the high-profile law enf­­orcement campaign in downtown Salt Lake City winds down, addressing the long-term damage that it created is just beginning.

Jails Deserve Justice

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Sara Wolovick returns to the ACLU of Utah for a two-year fellowship focused on jail reforms.\ Who says you can’t go back? When Sara Wolovick left the ACLU of Utah in 2017 at the end of a summer legal internship, she returned to Georgetown Law School to finish her degree. And now, as a newly minted J.D., Sara is returning to the ACLU as an Equal Justice Works Fellow to address the injustices and abuses within Utah’s jail and prison system that she researched as an intern.

Unblocking the First Amendment

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Announcing a new toolkit to help Utahns regain access to government social media pages.  Clicking the “block” button on social media pages is now much more perilous for Utah politicians and government agencies. Not only have more courts ruled that silencing online critics violates the First Amendment, but the ACLU of Utah has released a new toolkit to help people regain access to official government social media pages. 

2020 Legislative Preview

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Prepare for next year’s legislative session with the ACLU of Utah’s chief lobbyist. With only 45 days to make laws, Utah’s lawmakers and lobbyists rely on months of prep time to focus priorities and hone talking points. To find out what to expect when the next legislative session begins on January 28, 2020, we sat down with Marina Lowe, the ACLU of Utah’s Legislative & Policy Counsel and long-time lobbyist.

A Day in the Life of a Community Outreach Coordinator

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Ever since Sydni Makemo talked her way into a job at the ACLU of Utah in 2018, we knew she was a go-getter. As the first ACLU staff member based in Southern Utah (she lives with her husband, Hilkiah, and two children in St. George), Sydni is responsible for introducing the ACLU to hundreds of new supporters and allies. How does she do it? Let’s examine a typical day for Sydni.

State of Surveillance

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
To protect our right to privacy, we first need to realize what we might lose. Download this article as a PDF Imagine two streets in a Utah city.  On the first street, the neighbors know each other and talk often. They share tools, care for each other’s pets, and watch out for children playing in the street. No security cameras scan the sidewalks, and people speak freely without fear of being recorded. In the evening, families go for walks to visit on front porches and talk about ways to improve their neighborhood.  But on the second street, people don’t know their neighbors and never visit each other. Every house is ringed by a network of security cameras linked to a government database, and “No Trespassing” signs are planted in every yard. A police surveillance camera on a telephone pole scans passers-by with facial recognition software, while watchful eyes behind curtained windows report every strange car and person to the authorities.

Data-Driven Justice

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Criminal justice reform won’t happen unless we learn what’s going on inside the system. Even for insiders, the grinding gears of the criminal justice system can be as mysterious as a secret machine. That is why the Campaign for Smart Justice in Utah has been demanding more data collection, transparency, and accountability since we launched our effort in 2018. This is a summary of the progress we have made so far. 

“We Will See You In Court”

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Six months ago we filed a lawsuit to stop the state’s 18-week abortion ban. Here’s where it stands. On Wednesday, April 10, the ACLU of Utah Foundation joined with the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah to file a lawsuit in federal court to block H.B. 136—the state’s 18-week abortion ban passed during the 2019 legislative session. At the press conference at the Utah Capitol announcing the lawsuit, ACLU of Utah Senior Staff Attorney Leah Farrell reminded the audience that we successfully challenged a similar 22-week ban in the 1990s, adding “And once again we are standing up to hold the line and to say, ‘we will see you in court.’”

Making Voting Easier

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Helping more Utahns vote is the goal of our  new full-time colleague, Niki Venugopal. Voting is a fundamental right, no matter where you live. To realize that goal, the ACLU of Utah’s new Voting Rights Coordinator, Niki Venugopal, is launching an 18-month campaign to ensure equal and adequate access to the ballot box across the state. 

Dixie State Aids Immigrants (Fall 2019 Liberty Reporter)

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
A new fingerprinting service helps Washington County immigrants secure driving privilege cards. In June, Dixie State University’s (DSU)campus police began offering fingerprinting services to immigrants seeking a Utah driving privilege card after the ACLU of Utah noticed the service was not offered anywhere in Washington County. Driving privilege cards (DPC) allow immigrants to maintain and operate a vehicle regardless of their legal status, including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Perspectives (Fall 2019 Liberty Reporter)

11 October 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
How do you balance the benefits of new technology with the loss of privacy it can bring?

Endgame for Operation Rio Grande

29 September 2019 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
  We are still working on our updated report on Operation Rio Grande. We received important feedback and information from several partners who read a preview of the report, and we are busy incorporating these changes in to the final report.  In the meantime, you can read a preview of the report here, ORG Endgame, from the ACLU of Utah's Fall 2019 Newsmagazine, Liberty Reporter.  

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