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Moving Justice Forward For 60 Years!

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.

Students! Know Your Rights: A Guide For Utah High School Students

SKYRlrgIn school, young people not only learn about their constitutional rights, but they also see firsthand how those rights may be affected by the actions of others. The ACLU of Utah is dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of students and to helping students understand their rights in school.

The material provided on this website is for basic informational purposes only. It is not meant to be and should not be taken as legal advice, nor should you rely on this information instead of seeking the advice of an attorney. The legal issues surrounding civil rights and civil liberties are among the most complex in the law, and a person’s rights may vary from case to case depending on small and subtle details. Only a lawyer who has taken the time to become fully aware of the facts in a given case can provide you with sound legal advice.

If you feel your rights have been violated, please let us know the details by filling out a complaint form on our website.

National ACLU links for youth & students

A Guide For Utah High School Students

Other Utah Material

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How To Help Your Disillusioned Friend Vote

05 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2018 Fall Newsmagazine >>

Fighting Back for the Ballot

05 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
New laws and activist campaigns are expanding voter access across the nation—and right here in Utah Voter suppression is real. In 2011, the ACLU counted 30 attempts by state legislatures to restrict the right to vote through strategies such as limiting early voting opportunities and requiring photo IDs. But every action can spawn a reaction, and recent efforts to suppress voting have galvanized an equally strong response to protect and expand access to the ballot box—with the ACLU leading the charge.   Here are a few examples: In June, lawyers from the ACLU Voting Rights Project bested Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, in a three-week trial challenging his 2013 law requiring voters to prove their citizenship before registering to vote. Not only did the judge strike down the Kansas law as overly restrictive, but she also ordered Kobach to complete six hours of “continuing legal education,” the lawyer equivalent of being sent to summer school. When Georgia election officials attempted in August to close 7 out of 9 polling places in a rural county (claiming they weren’t accessible to people with disabilities), activists created a media firestorm to stop the effort by highlighting that a majority of people living…

Don’t Block Me

04 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
New court rulings agree that elected officials can’t block constituents on social media pages Our Founding Fathers could be mean. John Adams called Alexander Hamilton the “bastard brat of a Scottish peddler,” and claimed Thomas Jefferson’s soul was “poisoned with ambition.” Adams’ enemies retaliated by calling him a “blind, bald, crippled toothless man.” Political debates today can be just as heated, causing some elected leaders to block constituents who post critical views from accessing their Facebook or Twitter accounts. However, the ACLU of Utah believes that official social media platforms for elected leaders and government organizations are public forums, and that blocking individuals is an unconstitutional restriction on their right to free speech. As more lawsuits over social media blocking by elected officials are filed across the country, more judges are increasingly seeing it the same way. In April, the Governor of Maryland settled a lawsuit filed by the ACLU after his office blocked several constituents for posting critical comments. More recently, a federal judge in Maine allowed an ACLU lawsuit to continue against that state’s governor for blocking constituents—finding that social media censorship violated free speech rights. These rulings even apply to the nation’s highest political office: In May,…

The Cost of Operation Rio Grande

04 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Thousands arrested, hundreds in treatment, and dozens in new employment—we take a closer look at the numbers behind the story In August 2017—three days after the launch of Operation Rio Grande (ORG) to ‘clean up’ the area near 500 West—the ACLU of Utah offered our view: “Operation Rio Grande appears to be, at this point in time, ‘business as usual.’” Noting the heavy focus on law enforcement, we described it as another ineffective attempt to address complex social issues like substance abuse and mental illness “through our broken criminal justice system.” Media reports that week noted that state officials secured 300 jail beds prior to the operation, but only 37 beds for drug treatment. Seeing how ORG was designed as a hammer, we predicted 14 months ago that everyone it touched would become a nail. A critical appraisal Operation Rio Grande’s 24-month timer will expire soon after the June 2019 closure of The Road Home shelter and its replacement with three homeless resource centers. With that deadline now ten months away, we believe a critical appraisal is necessary. On October 18, the ACLU of Utah and the Campaign for Smart Justice in Utah will host a panel discussion about ORG…

Smart Justice On a Roll

04 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
A recap of recent accomplishments by the Campaign for Smart Justice (CSJ) in Utah. District Attorney Debates On October 3, we organized a debate for the Salt Lake County District Attorney race between Republican Nathan Evershed and Democratic incumbent Sim Gill. While elections for county prosecutor jobs are typically low profile, this contest is getting attention because both candidates promote criminal justice reform. The Salt Lake County event was the second in our series of three debates coordinated with the ABU Education Fund. The final debate, held at Utah Valley University on October 9, featured both candidates vying for the open Utah County District Attorney job—Republican David Leavitt and Libertarian Andrew McCullough. CSJ is proud to highlight the important role of Utah’s county prosecutors, and to demonstrate that criminal justice reform is not a partisan issue. Blueprint for Change In September, CSJ released the “Blueprint for Smart Justice Utah” as part of a national campaign to develop actionable policy steps to transform the criminal justice system and stop mass incarceration. Based on two years of research by the National ACLU and the Urban Institute, Utah’s Blueprint identifies specific changes to reduce the state’s prison population by 50% and address racial…

Busy in the Courts

04 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Our legal team is currently investigating or litigating a half-dozen cases—from prisoner abuse to immigrants’ rights Porter v. Daggett County and Asay v. Daggett County (2018)Issue: Criminal justiceConstitutional claim: Cruel and unusual punishment / 8th Amendment Background: This spring, we filed lawsuits on behalf of three individuals seeking damages and injunctive relief for the extreme brutality they experienced while incarcerated at the Daggett County Jail. Our clients allege that they were shocked with a Taser for guards’ entertainment, attacked by police dogs, physically assaulted, threatened with a gun, and denied medical and mental health care. The widespread abuse at the Daggett County Jail led to guilty pleas from four former employees and forced the state to remove its prisoners and close the facility.  Update: We opposed the state defendants’ motions to dismiss them from the cases. Our clients sued to force more protective policies for state prisoners in county jails, which would benefit them and the one-in-five state prisoners presently in county jails. Ramirez v. Reddish (2018)Issue: Immigrants’ rightsConstitutional claim: Unlawful search and seizure / 4th Amendment Background: In February, we sued agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S Marshals, and state and local agencies over two SWAT-style…

The Long Road to the Ballot Box

04 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
New commission districts and better voter assistance make this November’s election a historic opportunity for Native American residents of San Juan County In mid-September, ACLU of Utah staffers Rachel Appel and Leah Farrell left Salt Lake City for the 375-mile drive south to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in San Juan County. They weren’t headed there to hike the red rocks or raft the rivers, but instead to talk to voters attending the Navajo Nation’s 2018 Community Celebration. This November’s election could prove historic for San Juan County. Late last year, a federal judge ruled that the county’s commission districts were gerrymandered to discriminate against the county’s Native American population. Despite 49% of the county identifying as Native American, the county’s voting map concentrated these voters in just one commission district, effectively giving white voters majority representation in the other two. Under court order, the districts were independently redrawn, resulting in—for the first time—two commission districts and three school board districts containing a majority Navajo population. Based on these new boundaries, the November election could shift political power in San Juan County to Native American residents for the first time in modern history. Building a Case The morning of…

Recent Success for LGBTQ Equality in Davis County

04 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Echoing the 1998 East High lawsuit, students at Davis County’s Viewmont High School recently found themselves at odds with administrators over a stalled application for a gay-straight alliance (GSA). The school’s existing policy recognized only curricular clubs, with no leeway for extracurricular groups. Without official recognition, student organizers couldn’t put up posters in the hallways, advertise events on the morning announcements, or participate in the school’s rush week to find new members. Undeterred, the Viewmont students sought advice from the ACLU of Utah and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), who started a dialogue with the school administration about equal access and First Amendment issues. The intervention worked. Starting this fall, the Viewmont GSA is an officially-recognized school club. In addition, the policy shift at Viewmont helped to set precedent for the nearby and brand-new Farmington High School to start recognizing both curricular and extracurricular clubs. Finally, as if to vindicate the persistence of the Viewmont students, 73 new members signed up to join the GSA during rush week. This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2018 Fall Newsletter >>

“We set a legal precedent, and you can’t take that away”

04 October 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
20 years after Salt Lake City high school students sued to organize a gay-straight alliance, people are still talking about it Most teenagers spend their high school years trying to blend in with the crowd. Few, however, engage in a multi-year legal battle against their school board plus occasional skirmishes with state lawmakers. But that’s what happened in 1998 when students at East High School filed a lawsuit against the Salt Lake City Board of Education for violating their First Amendment rights. Backing them in the courtroom were the ACLU of Utah, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. What became a pair of lawsuits was initially sparked by the school board’s 1996 decision to ban all non-curricular student clubs, rather than recognize the newly-formed gay-straight alliance (GSA) at East High. The board was forced to cut all clubs due to the Equal Access Act, a 1984 law championed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to prevent unequal treatment of religious clubs in public schools. If the board denied one club, they had to ban them all, so 46 non-curricular clubs—from the chess club to ski club—were prohibited from meeting on school property. For the next four years, students…

Utah’s Blueprint To End Mass Incarceration

11 September 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Like the rest of the nation, Utah has a mass incarceration problem. But there is a solution. We released the Smart Justice Utah Blueprint - an analysis that shows how all of us, from community members to policymakers, can transform the criminal justice system and cut Utah incarceration numbers in half.

Families Belong Together

20 June 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
With nearly 2,000 immigrant children separated from their parents in just six weeks alone, there is an unprecedented human rights disaster unfolding at our border. The ACLU of Utah has created this resource page to provide information including action alerts and upcoming rallies and protests in Utah.

Anthony Romero Inspires Utah Audience

20 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
National ACLU Executive Director traveled to Utah to emphasize the organization’s “long-game” of civil rights and liberties advocacy at a Park City speech on April 3rd

Membership Meeting Explores Utah Activism Since 2016

20 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
ACLU staff, board and supporters shared goals and insights during last November’s annual meeting

Spreading the Word

20 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Jason Stevenson brings a journalistic approach to the ACLU’s media and communications strategy

Fixing the System

20 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Meet Jason Groth, the ACLU of Utah’s first Smart Justice Coordinator. During his three years as a public defender in Grand Junction, Colorado, Jason saw a lot of people fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system.

Utah Youth Stand Up, Walk Out, and Raise Their Voices

18 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The student led "March for Our Lives" drew an estimated 8,000 protestors to the Utah State Capitol calling for stricter gun control policies.

Getting Smart About Justice in Utah

18 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Utah’s new Campaign for Smart Justice is off to a fast start

ACLU ON THE HILL: 2018 Legislative Review

18 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Our experienced lobbyist team won several major victories on the Hill this year—and set the stage for future success

Relief for Targets of Gang Injunction

18 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Settlement reached in case arising from 2010 Ogden gang injunction

Victory for Voting Rights and Ballot Access in San Juan County

17 April 2018 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Weeks before going to trial, the ACLU of Utah and San Juan County officials settled a voting rights case on behalf of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and several Navajo individuals

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