Tag Archives: aclu

People Power: ACLU launches nationwide training on protest, resistance

The American Civil Liberties Union staged a nationwide training event over the weekend to make sure people are aware of their rights as protesters and urge organized, public resistance by those opposed to policies of President Donald Trump.

Organizers said the event at a sports arena on the University of Miami campus was livestreamed to locations in all 50 states.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said 200,000 people had signed up to attend one of an estimated 2,000 local events.

The event, staged in town hall style, was aimed at capitalizing on numerous demonstrations since Trump’s election in November and to make sure people know their rights to protest, Romero said. He said priority issues are immigration, the First Amendment free speech and religious freedom rights, civil and reproductive rights and rights of LGBT people.

“We will bring all the lawsuits necessary to defend these rights,” Romero said. “We’ll do the work in the courts. You do the work in the streets. People are motivated. They want to be engaged.”

The ACLU also launched a new grassroots online organizing platform called PeoplePower.org. It’s billed as a way for people considering a local protest or rally to connect and coordinate with others around the country with similar intentions, and to provide details of ACLU initiatives.

Another plan is creation of “freedom cities” around the country that would encourage local officials to pass laws resisting Trump policies such as stepped-up deportations of people living in the country illegally, said Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director.

Other parts of Saturday’s event detailed the rules for demonstrations on streets, sidewalks and in public parks, and the rights people have when arrested such as the right to remain silent. ACLU attorney Lee Rowland said large demonstrations generally require a local permit, but government can’t typically shut down protesters in public places without good reason.

“The government can’t censor you just because it disagrees with your opinion,” Rowland said.

Also speaking at the event was Padma Lakshmi, an Indian-born cookbook author, actress, model and television host. She said she emigrated to the U.S. at age four and said the nation appears to be retreating from its welcoming ways.

“Lately I’ve started to feel like an outsider,” she said. “What makes America great is our culture of inclusion. We must not tolerate the intolerance.”

On the web

Watch the video.

Supreme Court sends transgender rights case back to lower court

The Supreme Court on March 6 announced it is sending Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to be reconsidered in light of the Departments of Justice and Education rescinding a Title IX Guidance clarifying protections for transgender students.

“The Supreme Court has missed an opportunity to end the painful discrimination currently faced by tens of thousands of transgender students nationwide,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, the nation’s largest group dedicated to protecting LGBT teachers and students and promoting tolerance in schools.

The remand means that the Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments in the transgender rights case on March 28.

The Fourth Circuit of Appeals originally ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm in his case challenging a Virginia school board’s decision to force him to use a separate, single-stall restroom that no other student is required to use.

Joshua Block, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT Project and lead counsel for Gavin Grimm, said the Supreme Court’s decision did not change the meaning of the law.

“Title IX and the Constitution protect Gavin and other transgender students from discrimination,” Block said in a news release. “While we’re disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be hearing Gavin’s case this term, the overwhelming level of support shown for Gavin and trans students by people across the country throughout this process shows that the American people have already moved in the right direction and that the rights of trans people cannot be ignored.”

Block said the legal fight is taking a detour, not the end of the road.

Gavin’s case has drawn support from a broad coalition of civil rights organizations, businesses, law enforcement agencies, education groups and more.

The National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García said on March 6, “We, as educators, have a moral, legal, and professional duty to support all students, including our transgender students, and nothing about the Supreme Court’s decision today to remand Gavin’s case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit changes that.

“While we are disappointed that the Supreme Court deferred deciding whether Gavin’s rights were violated when he was discriminated against at school for being transgender, we are confident that the Fourth Circuit, and eventually the Supreme Court, will ultimately vindicate his rights.”


Wisconsin ACLU sues Milwaukee Police Department over stop-and-frisk

A class-action lawsuit was filed Feb. 22 against the city of Milwaukee over its police department’s vast stop-and-frisk program.

The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the law firm of Covington & Burling.

The suit says the department targets tens of thousands of people without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, the legal requirement for a police stop, making the program unconstitutional.

The suit also says the department’s violations of constitutional rights are driven by racial profiling, with preliminary data showing significant disparities between police stop rates for white people and for Black and Latino people.

“For the last decade, the Milwaukee Police Department has pursued an aggressive and unconstitutional policing strategy that treats people of color as suspects for no good reason, stopping innocent men, women, and children as they try to go about their daily lives,” stated Jason Williamson, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “This approach forces tens of thousands to live under suspicion every time they step outside.”

Charles Collins, one of the lawsuit’s six plaintiffs and the target of a police stop, is a black military veteran who has lived in Milwaukee for 55 years.

He said on Feb. 22, “If I’m going out, I’m always looking over my shoulder even though I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Between 2007 and 2015, the MPD almost tripled its traffic and pedestrian stops, from around 66,000 to around 196,000, following the launch of the unlawful stop-and-frisk program in 2008, according to the ACLU.

“The Milwaukee Police Department has prioritized widespread, unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices over its relationship with communities of color in this city,” said Karyn Rotker, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Wisconsin. “By routinely stopping thousands of people who have done nothing wrong, the department has undermined its relationship with Milwaukee residents and created a profound lack of trust in those communities — which compromises the department’s ability to investigate crimes.”

In 2011, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found Milwaukee police were seven times more likely to stop black drivers than white drivers and five times more likely to stop Hispanic drivers than white drivers.

According to the ACLU’s preliminary analysis of records from a Milwaukee police database on stops, black (non-Hispanic) people were the targets of 72 percent of stops from 2010 through 2012 when they made up 34 percent of the city’s population.

The department conducts far more stops and frisks in the parts of Milwaukee that are predominantly black or Latino than in other areas.

“The department’s own records raise a red flag that unlawful stop-and-frisk in Milwaukee is a dragnet that results in racial profiling,” said Nusrat Choudhury, senior staff attorney of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “But the city can keep all communities safe without trampling on people’s rights. In New York City, crime rates continued to fall even after a similar program was ended following a federal court ruling that it violated the law.”

The lawsuit seeks “reforms that safeguard constitutional rights by promoting bias-free and evidence-based policing, transparency and police accountability.”

These reforms include an end to the Milwaukee Police Department’s practice of conducting stops and frisks without reasonable suspicion, as well as its practice of stopping people based on their race or ethnicity.

The lawsuit also seeks improved training, supervision and monitoring of officers who conduct stops and frisks, as well as the collection and semiannual release to the public of data on all stops and frisks to permit further analysis for evidence of constitutional violations.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

Washington Supreme Court: Florist broke the law by denying service to gay couple

The Washington Supreme Court ruled Feb.16 that a florist in Richland violated a state anti-discrimination law when she denied service to a same-sex couple planning to marry.

Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll were refused service by Arlene’s Flowers because they are gay.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Washington are representing Freed and Ingersoll in their lawsuit against the florist for violating their rights.

The suit, Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, was heard jointly with the consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers brought by the state of Washington.

“We’re thrilled that the Washington Supreme Court has ruled in our favor. The court affirmed that we are on the right side of law and the right side of history,” said Freed and Ingersoll. “We felt it was so important that we stand up against discrimination because we don’t want what happened to us to happen to anyone else. We are so glad that we stood up for our rights.”

Freed and Ingersoll have been a couple since 2004. In December 2012, Freed proposed marriage to Ingersoll and the two became engaged.

They were planning for a wedding to be held on their anniversary in September 2013.

Having purchased goods from Arlene’s Flowers on other occasions, Ingersoll  approached the florist to arrange for flowers for the wedding. He was told the business would not sell the couple flowers because of the owner’s religious beliefs.

The Washington Law Against Discrimination guarantees the right to be free from discrimination in public accommodations based on race, creed, national origin, sex, and sexual orientation, among other characteristics. Thus, it prohibits businesses that are open to the general public from refusing to sell goods, merchandise and services because of a person’s sexual orientation.

“Religious freedom is a fundamental part of America,” said Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “But religious beliefs do not give any of us a right to ignore the law or to harm others because of who they are. When people experience acts of discrimination, they feel that they are not full and equal members of our society, and we’re delighted that the Washington Supreme Court has recognized this.”

The state supreme court’s decision upheld a 2015 ruling by Benton County Superior Court that the refusal of Arlene’s Flowers to sell flowers to the couple violated the longstanding Washington Law Against Discrimination and the Consumer Protection Act.

“Freedom of religion is fundamental to American society, that’s why it is firmly protected by the U.S. Constitution. People should also never use their personal religious beliefs as a free pass to violate the law or the basic civil rights of others,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “Businesses who are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms. We congratulate the ACLU on their important victory in this case upholding fairness and equality under the law.”

Ingersoll and Freed are represented by ACLU cooperating attorneys Michael Scott, Amit Ranade and Jake Ewart of Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson P.S., ACLU of Washington Staff Attorney Margaret Chen, and ACLU LGBT and HIV Project Staff Attorney Elizabeth Gill.

Did you know

Washington is one of 19 states that provide protections against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

ACLU gets a Trump-era surge in members and donations


The ACLU says it’s suddenly awash in donations and new members as it does battle with President Donald Trump over the extent of his constitutional authority. Nearly $80 million in online contributions alone have poured in since the election.

That includes a record $24 million surge over two days after Trump banned people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. The organization said its membership has more than doubled since the election to a record of nearly 1.2 million, and its Twitter following has tripled.

“It feels like we’re drinking from a fire hydrant,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, adding that the election has brought immigration, refugee, reproductive, civil and voting rights “to a high boil.”

“What’s really heartening is people are paying attention. They’re aware of the crisis on the horizon,” he said. “There’s a real sense of urgency.”

After Trump’s election, the ACLU greeted the age of Trump on its website and magazine with a fresh slogan: “See you in court.” That was the same expression Trump used in his tweeted response to a federal appeals court’s decision refusing to reinstate the travel ban.

The ACLU has won court orders in New York, Massachusetts and Maryland against the president’s travel ban. It has also filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents on the billionaire’s potential conflicts of interest. And it intends to bring a legal challenge accusing him of violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause by accepting payments from foreign governments at his hotels and other properties.

Trump has defended the travel ban as critical to keeping America safe, saying terrorists could otherwise slip into the country. He predicted the courts will eventually find his order constitutional. Also, Trump’s business empire has said it will donate profits from any foreign governments that use his hotels.

The ACLU said it has raised $79 million online from nearly 1 million individuals since the election. It had no immediate figures for contributions made by other means.

The boost to the ACLU’s $220 million budget will allow it to spend more on its state operations, which Romero said became critical after some legislatures took Trump’s election as a license to promote anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights and anti-abortion legislation.

The 1,150-employee ACLU also plans to hire more lawyers and staff in New York and Washington and spend $13 million more on citizen engagement, including protests and lobbying. That is a new front for an organization that has primarily been a policy and legal group.

Sheryl Douglas, receptionist at the ACLU’s New York City headquarters since 1972, has been collecting some of the recent emails, letters and postcards.

“Sic ‘em! Thanks!” read one.

“We commend your heroic efforts,” said another.

“You give me hope,” yet another said.

Among the new donors was Andrew Mcdonald, 52, of Odessa, Missouri.

“I’m ashamed to say I haven’t donated to any organizations in the past,” he said. “But things haven’t felt so threatening before either. … This time I felt like I couldn’t just sit here and do nothing.”

Another donor, Steve Berke, 35, of Miami Beach, Florida, said: “I think the ACLU is going to be a huge thorn in the side of the Trump administration. Trump has already demonstrated that he has a thin skin when it comes to anyone challenging his authority or power, but I’m confident that the ACLU will fight to protect American civil liberties.”

Over the years, the ACLU has been bitterly criticized for taking up unpopular causes, such as defending the rights of neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan to demonstrate.

Geraldine Engel, ACLU deputy development director, said the recent outpouring has been heartening. “We were always unpopular, misunderstood,” she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union was born in 1920 when a small group of idealists challenged then-Attorney General Mitchell Palmer’s order that thousands of people branded foreign anarchists or communists be arrested without warrants. Many were deported.

Soon the organization was defending people’s constitutional rights to due process, privacy and freedom of assembly, speech and religion and looking out for society’s vulnerable, including minorities, women, gay and transgender people, immigrants, prisoners and the disabled.

In 1925, ACLU lawyers helped defend John Scopes, a schoolteacher prosecuted for teaching evolution in Tennessee. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the ACLU protested the detention of 110,000 Japanese-Americans in camps.

In the 1950s, it joined the NAACP to fight segregation in public schools. And it had a role in the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.

More recently, it helped persuade the Supreme Court in 2003 to strike down a Texas law outlawing gay sex and forced the government after 9/11 to divulge information about torture and the National Security Agency’s surveillance of Americans.

Esha Bhandari, an ACLU attorney in New York, said the public’s reaction lately is encouraging to those who gave up bigger salaries to work for the nonprofit organization.

“This is why we’re here,” said the Columbia Law School graduate. “The importance comes into sharp relief. We exist for moments like this. Lives are on the line.”

Sisak reported from Philadelphia.



Critics pan Walker’s budget on youth prison

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would keep Wisconsin’s troubled youth prison open but doesn’t provide nearly enough funding to meet federal staffing requirements.

It also orders no systemic changes despite an FBI investigation into alleged inmate abuse and two lawsuits challenging conditions at the remote facility.

The budget the governor unveiled makes no mention of problems at the prison in the woods outside Irma in northern Wisconsin.

The spending plan lays out about $2 million to create eight new guard positions, three new mental health specialist positions for the prison’s female wing and convert nine contract nursing positions to state positions.

But even with the new positions, the boys’ side of the prison would be about 50 guards short of staff-to-inmate ratios mandated by the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Walker, a Republican, rejected a Department of Corrections request for $3.7 million for serious juvenile offender care and community supervision and made no move toward returning prison inmates to a facility in Milwaukee County, where most of the prison’s inmates are from, even though Walker said in December he was open to such a transfer.

“This is literally as anemic as it gets,” state Rep. Evan Goyke, a Milwaukee Democrat, said. “It’s as if nothing has ever happened at that prison.”

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said the budget builds on reforms DOC has already made at the prison. DOC spokesman Tristan Cook said those include a review of policies in the Division of Juvenile Corrections, a new pre-service training academy for new guards and regional efforts to recruit staff that have helped reduce the number of vacancies from 34 to 23 over the last year.

Cook said the number of guards the boys’ wing needs to satisfy federal ratios was based on population estimates that have fallen since they were first made. He said DOC will determine whether the ratios need adjusting before they go into effect in October. He added that the girls’ wing is already in compliance with PREA ratios.

“DOC is committed to a safe and secure environment for all youth in DOC custody,” Cook said.

The prison has been a flashpoint of controversy since December 2015, when word broke state agents had been investigating allegations of inmate abuse for the past year. The FBI has taken over the investigation. No one has been charged but Corrections Secretary Ed Wall resigned as questions about the prison’s conditions intensified.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Juvenile Law Center filed a federal lawsuit in January asking a judge to limit solitary confinement, and the use of pepper spray at the prison. A former inmate who suffered brain damage in a suicide attempt in her cell has her own federal lawsuit, alleging staff failed to prevent her attempt.

Despite the investigation and the lawsuits, Republicans who control the Legislature introduced bills earlier this month that could land more children in the prison and keep them there longer. The measures would expand the list of crimes that qualify for incarceration at the facility and allow juveniles to be held at the prison for more than three years, the current limit.

Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch and Democratic Sen. LaTonya Johnson have introduced a bill that would make guards at the prison mandatory child abuse reporters. Goyke said he plans to introduce a bill that would create regional juvenile detention centers and transform the prison into a treatment center for drunken drivers. That measure has almost no chance of passing given Republican control of both chambers.

Walker’s budget does little to help the situation, said Juvenile Law Center attorney Jessica Feierman.

“This proposal would still leave the (prison) so severely underfunded and understaffed that they are not even in compliance with federal standards,” Feierman said in an email to The Associated Press. “A smarter approach would be to spend money on programs that work, serving young people in their homes or communities, and relying on evidence-based approaches to juvenile justice.”

The budget is far from finished. The document now goes to the Legislature’s finance committee, which will spend the spring rewriting it. Spokespeople for the committee’s co-chairs, Rep. John Nygren and Sen. Alberta Darling, didn’t immediately respond to an email message seeking comment on the prison’s budget.

Wisconsin-based group sues, alleges Trump EPA nominee violated records laws

A lawsuit filed this week accuses Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, of violating open records law by not providing access to emails and other official documents sought for up to two years.

Continue reading Wisconsin-based group sues, alleges Trump EPA nominee violated records laws

Judge blocks part of Trump’s order, protests continue

President Donald Trump’s order to restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States sparked outrage and hit a roadblock late on Saturday when a federal judge said stranded travelers could stay in the country.

The emergency court ruling was cheered at Boston’s Logan International Airport, one of several major U.S. airports where protesters angry with Trump’s order gathered.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sought the temporary stay, said it would help 100 to 200 people with valid visas or refugee status who found themselves detained in transit or at U.S. airports after Trump signed the order late on Friday.

The ACLU, along with several groups, filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Iraqi men who were en route to the United States on immigrant visas when Trump issued the executive order banning many Muslims from entering the country.

One of the men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was traveling on an Iraqi special Immigrant Visa and had worked as an electrical engineer and contractor for the U.S. government from 2003–2010.

Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq, said Darweesh had worked for him as an interpreter. He said on Twitter that Mr. Darweesh “spent years keeping U.S. soldiers alive in combat in Iraq.”

The other man, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, had been granted a Follow to Join Visa. His wife and 7-year-old son are lawful permanent residents residing in Houston, Texas, and were eagerly awaiting his arrival. Alshawi’s son has not seen his father for three years.

“President Trump’s war on equality is already taking a terrible human toll. This ban cannot be allowed to continue,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The judge’s order later on Saturday was a dramatic end to Trump’s first week in office, capped by the Republican president’s four-month ban on refugees entering the United States and a 90-day hold on travelers from Syria and six other countries.

Trump had promised during his campaign what he called “extreme vetting” of immigrants and refugees to try to prevent terror attacks.

He told reporters in the White House’s Oval Office earlier on Jan. 28 that his order was “not a Muslim ban” and said the measures were long overdue.

Senior officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told reporters they had not seen the ruling, but said the government would implement any appropriate orders.

In the ban…

The ban on U.S. travel for passport-holders of seven Middle Eastern states applies to airlines’ flight crew, the International Air Transport Association said in an email to carriers around the world on Saturday.

The email, seen by Reuters, said the executive order from the president caught airlines unprepared.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection briefed IATA in a Saturday afternoon conference call about the new rules, the email said, noting that passport-holders from states such as Iran, including cabin crew, will be barred entry to the United States.

Reaction from Turkey, Britain, Iraq

Trump’s sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States is no solution to problems, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday, adding that Western countries should do more to help ease Turkey’s refugee burden.

When asked by a reporter about Trump’s ban during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Ankara, Yildirim said: “Regional issues cannot be solved by closing the doors on people. We expect the Western world to lighten Turkey’s burden.”

“You can build a wall but it’s not a solution. That wall will come down like the Berlin wall,” he said, adding Turkey has spent some $26 billion on sheltering refugees.

May, who met with Trump in Washington a day earlier, told the news conference that the United States was responsible for its position on refugees. She has previously said a “special relationship” between the United States and Britain meant the two countries could speak frankly to each other when they disagreed on issues.

Iraqi lawmakers have requested that parliament discuss Trump’s action.

Rinas Jano, a member of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said he made the request with several other MPs.

“We want officials from the Iraqi foreign affairs ministry to come to parliament to explain the U.S. decision and discuss the matter,” he told Reuters.

The Iraqi government has so far declined to comment on the executive order signed by Trump.

Yemen is “dismayed” by Trump’s decision, saying that the country was a victim of attacks itself, an official said on Saturday.

“We are dismayed by the decision to unilaterally ban, even for only a month, travel to the United States for people holding Yemeni passports,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Civil rights groups sue over alleged abuse at youth prison

Civil rights groups sued Wisconsin seeking improvements at a youth prison because guards there are still abusing children despite state and federal investigations.

The American Civil Liberties Union along with the Juvenile Law Center filed a federal lawsuit this week asking a judge to limit solitary confinement, mechanical restraints and the use of pepper spray at the Irma facility. State investigators spent all of 2015 probing allegations of widespread abuse at Lincoln Hills. The FBI has since taken over the probe.

A number of state prison officials have resigned or retired in the midst of the investigations. But no one has been charged and the FBI has said nothing about the investigation’s progress.

ACLU attorney Larry Dupuis said during a Milwaukee news conference that his group had hoped the investigations would prompt changes at the prison. But he said guards continue to violate inmates’ constitutional rights by locking them up in solitary confinement, chaining them to desks and pepper spraying them for minor infractions, prompting the ACLU lawsuit. During a visit to the prison in October, Dupuis said, he saw a boy get pepper sprayed and dragged off because he wouldn’t remove his shoes.

“Usually when ACLU shows up at a prison, (guards are) on their best behavior,” Dupuis said. “We were shocked by what we heard and saw for ourselves. If I had any reason to believe something was coming in the investigations, we may have held off.”

FBI spokesman Leonard Peace declined to comment, saying the investigation was ongoing. State Department of Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook declined comment as well.

The ACLU and the law center filed the lawsuit on behalf of three children currently held at the prison and one child who was held there before he was moved to a mental health facility.

The filing alleges on any day up to 20 percent of the prison’s population is held in solitary confinement in tiny, unfurnished cells. They receive only an hour of education instead of the four or five they would normally get and are chained to their desks or shackled, the lawsuit alleges. Guards needlessly pepper spray inmates for minor, nonviolent infractions, sometimes using a spray meant to stop bears, the lawsuit added.

The practices are unconstitutionally excessive and cruel, the lawsuit said. The filing asks a judge to allow solitary confinement, mechanical restraints and pepper spray only in rare cases to avoid serious physical harm.

Attorney General Brad Schimel declined to defend the state in the lawsuit Tuesday because the Department of Justice ran the state’s portion of the investigation, creating a conflict, DOJ spokesman Johnny Koremenos said. That means Gov. Scott Walker’s administration will need to hire private attorneys.

Twenty-nine states have prohibited solitary confinement as punishment for juveniles, according to the pro bono law firm Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest. Wisconsin is one of 15 states that limit the time a juvenile spends in solitary confinement; Wisconsin’s maximum is 60 days. Seven states have no limit on solitary confinement or allow indefinite extensions, according to the center.

Wisconsin lawmakers haven’t passed any measures addressing conditions at the youth prison since word of the investigation broke a year ago. Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch and Democratic state Sen. LaTonya Johnson began circulating a bill Tuesday that would require prison guards to report child abuse to law enforcement in response to the prison allegations.

Rep. Michael Schraa, chairman of the Assembly’s corrections committee, didn’t immediately return a message. The state Senate doesn’t have a corrections committee; the equivalent body is the judiciary committee, led by Republican Van Wanggaard. His aide, Scott Kelly, said Wanggaard wants to see the FBI’s findings before drawing conclusions but is growing more frustrated with the agency for not releasing any information.

ACLU files Freedom of Information request for Trump documents

The American Civil Liberties Union has taken legal action seeking documents on conflicts of interest and violations of the Constitution and federal law posed by Donald Trump and his family’s business interests.

The organization also released a plan laying out how it intends to challenge other Trump policies and protect the Constitution.

The efforts are made possible by the organization’s new Constitution Defense Fund, which was established following the election.

The first legal action, filed yesterday, is a Freedom of Information Act request asking several government agencies to turn over all documents relating to President Trump’s actual or potential conflicts of interest to his business and family connections.

The request seeks legal opinions, memoranda, advisories, and communications from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the Office of Government Ethics, the General Services Administration, and the office of Personnel Management from Nov. 9, 2016, to Jan. 20, 2017. The request includes email and all other communication to and from the presidential transition team.

“We are bringing this first legal action using the Freedom of Information Act to underscore the fact that President Trump is not above the law. Trump took the oath, but he didn’t take the steps necessary to ensure that he and his family’s business interests comply with the Constitution and other federal statutes,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “Freedom of information requests are our democracy’s X-ray, and they will be vitally important to expose and curb the abuses of a president who believes the rules don’t apply to him and his family. We also know that more legal action will be needed when the new administration attempts to enact some of their unconstitutional proposals. The ACLU’s charge, laid out in our Seven-Point Plan, is to stand ready to confront any unconstitutional elements of the administration’s agenda — today on day one and for the next four years.”

The ACLU’s plan details potential legal challenges to the Trump administration’s enacting of unconstitutional policies, including:

• Demanding government accountability and transparency
• Protecting the rights of immigrants
• Defending reproductive rights
• Securing the First Amendment
• Advancing LGBT rights
• Defend core civil rights and civil liberties from erosion
• Mobilizing Americans to defend our Constitution

Over the next four years, the ACLU will implement its plan by adding up to 100 full-time employees across the country, paid for by its Constitution Defense Fund, which has attracted nearly 400,000 donations since Election Day.

The FOIA request https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/trump_conflicts_foia_request.pdf