On Liberty

Despite succeeding in court, "show me your papers" has failed in action





Laura Rotolo

Matthew Segal

Laura Rótolo, FOIA counsel and community advocate for the ACLU of Massachusetts, and Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, originally co-wrote this guest blog for Boston.com.

Today the Supreme Court struck down several provisions of Arizona's controversial anti-immigrant law, but it upheld the infamous "show me your papers" provision. Although the Court's decision to uphold that provision is a blow against civil rights and liberties, the "show me your papers" provision is likely to be relegated to the dustbin of history anyway.

Immigration plan shows that defending rights is smart politics



Carol Rose

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, originally wrote this guest blog for Boston.com.

It's heartening to see that President Obama is ready to offer immigrants to this country some relief--or at least to their children--by granting work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors and have since led law-abiding lives.

WTF, Middleborough?

Matt Segal

 
Matthew R. Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, originally wrote this guest blog for Boston.com.
 

Some laws are good, some are bad, and some are just @!#$! ridiculous. A new anti-swearing provision passed by the town of Middleborough falls into that last category.

On Monday night, Middleborough voted to allow police officers to write $20 tickets to enforce the town's longstanding ban on addressing anyone in public using profanity. The profanity ban is clearly unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has held that a government cannot ban public speech just because it contains profanity. In Cohen v. California, a man was arrested for disturbing the peace after he went out in public--in fact, he went to a courthouse!--wearing a jacket bearing the words "Fuck the Draft." The Supreme Court held that he had a First Amendment to wear the jacket, noting that "one man's vulgarity is another's lyric."

"Show me your papers" comes to Massachusetts

Matt Segal

 
Matthew R. Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, originally wrote this guest blog for Boston.com.
 

Starting on May 15, the federal government will effectively force Massachusetts--that’s right, force--to participate in “Secure Communities,” an immigration dragnet that risks pushing Massachusetts toward an Arizona-style “show me your papers” regime.

This is bad news for all Massachusetts residents. S-Comm promotes racial profiling, jeopardizes public safety, and inhibits economic growth. Although the federal government seems intent on implementing this flawed program anyway, Massachusetts officials should try to limit the havoc that it wreaks.

In schools with hammers, guess what kids become



Carol Rose

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, originally wrote this blog for Boston.com.

To a person wielding a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. So it's no surprise that when you put a bunch of armed cops into public schools, they start arresting kids for behaviors such as swearing, banging lockers, and throwing tantrums--behavior that is nothing new but that, once upon a time, parents and school officials used to handle.