Civil Rights

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Press Release: Home of the Free???

For Immediate Release: May 16, 2007 Contact: E.C. Danuel D. Quaintance, Church of Cognizance at (928) 485-2952 I ask for nothing more than open minds to examine the possible consequences of putting scriptural interpretations of a recognized religion to a test, in order to decide if that religion qualifies for First Amendment protections. It is not uncommon amongst followers of various faiths to interpret their common faith in different ways. The Supreme Court stated, in Thomas v. Review Board, “Intrafaith differences of that kind are not uncommon among followers of a particular creed, and the judicial process is singularly ill equipped to resolve such differences in relation to the Religion Clauses,” then went on to instruct that “Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretations.” This human freedom to interpret the scriptures as we see them was something most Americans take for granted. This freedom is not something small churches can take for granted any longer. The attack against a small church, and religious interpretations in general, has begun in a U.S. District court in New Mexico. New Mexico follows prior decisions of the 10th Cir. Courts. The 10th Circuit upheld the use of a test in the District of New Mexico, which originated in deciding if the beliefs of a newly established, one-man, religion qualified to receive First Amendment protection. The test has become known as the Meyers Matrix. The use of the Meyers Matrix test was never challenged in the Supreme Court of the United States. Now the Meyers test has been inappropriately used to test if a religious group of a recognized religion deserves protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, RFRA. Testimony of cultural anthropologist Dr. Deborah Pruitt, PhD, who specializes in many non-mainstream religions, revealed the Meyers test is highly skewed against a great number of recognized religions. Government, in an attempt to avoid the requirement of showing “a compelling government interest” for burdening the free “Exercise of Religion”, has chosen a new and innovative path of getting around that requirement. First government attorneys declared the religion was “a Bastardized form” of the religion. Then went on to declare, what synonymously amounts to claiming because the leader of a Christian church was no Christ, the church did not deserve the constitutional protection a religion enjoys. This wasn’t enough insult to freedom of religion, government turned to a Priest of another sect of the religion, as an expert witness, in an attempt to prove another religious group incorrectly interprets the teachings, practices, and modes of worship of their common faith. This move showed a total disrespect for prior decisions of the Supreme Court, like the one quoted above. In the end it didn’t matter that government attempted to test one sect against another. Government’s hoped results from such an attempt backfired. The testimony of government’s expert witness from the common faith ended up showing the small group might actually more correctly interpret many elements of their common faith. With the prior method failing it was up to the, recently appointed, Federal Judge to put the hammer down. U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera had her own methods of depriving religious freedoms. She decided to count the elements that were not met in the Meyers test, and then call that which was met “dicta,” which allowed her to not count that part of the test when arriving at a deciding average of whether or not the beliefs qualify for religious protections. By that move, and a determination that the “mantra” considered the “moral and ethical compass,” of this recognized religion, provided no moral or ethical guidance, the judge ruled that not enough factors of the Meyer Matrix were met to qualify for religious protections under RFRA or the First Amendment. End of story, the beginning of the end of a once highly honored protection amongst Americans. The only hope now is through contacting your representatives and asking them to investigate and put a halt to this disregard for cherished human rights. For more information visit http://danmary.org
Location: 
NM
United States

Opinion: A devastating link: prisoner rape, the war on drugs in the U.S.

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Clarion-Ledger (MS)
URL: 
http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070516/OPINION/705160306

Hempfest marches onward

Location: 
OH
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Lantern (OH)
URL: 
http://media.www.thelantern.com/media/storage/paper333/news/2007/05/14/Campus/Hempfest.Marches.Onward-2903077.shtml

The Sentencing Project: Disenfranchisement News & Updates - 5/10/07

Colorado: Governor, Secretary of State Oppose Parolee Voting Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat and former prosecutor, said he will veto the state's election law bill, SB 83, if supporters insist on putting parolee voting back in it. In late April, the House of Representatives rejected a provision that would have given individuals on parole the right to vote. Secretary of State Mike Coffman said the provision violated the state's constitution, according to the Denver Post. Texas: 'A Step in the Right Direction' The Daily Texan, a University of Texas at Austin student publication, published an opinion editorial in favor of restoring the voting rights of individuals charged with a non-violent offense. Texas restores voting rights after completion of sentence and parole or probation. The piece comes on the heels of proposed legislation, HB 770, to notify formerly incarcerated individuals of their voting status. The editorial stated that petty acts should be treated as such, and individuals would benefit more from treatment, and should not lose their voting rights as a result. "Thousands of acts carry felony charges, including stealing cable service and electrocuting fish," the editorial stated. "In Texas, there are 550,000 felons in prison and nearly 440,000 on probation. For many of them, the power of a ballot in their hand could far outweigh the seriousness of their crime." National: Disenfranchisement by the Numbers; Challenging Disenfranchisement The Wall Street Journal published an article noting the impact, particularly by numbers, of Florida's recent move to lift the voting ban for individuals convicted of non-violent felonies - about 80 percent of the state's disenfranchised citizens, according to state officials. In considering the upcoming presidential election and its outcome as a result of a potential increase in registered voters, Carl Bialik, the Journal's 'Numbers Guy,' wrote: "But all of these numbers - the counts of people affected, the percentage likely to vote and their projected party breakdown - are fraught with uncertainty, muddying political predictions." Florida's move to re-enfranchise may "inspire similar efforts in other states," Forbes.com reported. Forbes also stated that as a result of the increasing prison population, disenfranchisement is becoming a pressing issue. The University of Alabama Law Review recently published Challenges to Felony Disenfranchisement Laws: Past, Present and Future, which outlines the momentum disenfranchisement reform has gained over the years - especially since the 2000 presidential election. The article traces the origins of felony disenfranchisement laws to the Roman Empire, marks the history of equal protection challenges to felony disenfranchisement laws by making note of the Supreme Court case Richardson vs. Ramirez, and entertains what the future holds for these challenges.
Location: 
United States

Wahkiakum drug-testing policy goes to state's high court

Location: 
Olympia, WA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Daily News (WA)
URL: 
http://www.tdn.com/articles/2007/05/09/top_story/news01.txt

SD: Supreme Court says marijuana cannot be used as evidence

Location: 
Pierre, SD
United States
Publication/Source: 
Sioux City Journal (IA)
URL: 
http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2007/05/04/news/south_dakota/67123a26c690c28a862572d1000542db.txt

The Sentencing Project: Disenfranchisement News & Updates - 5/3/07

Virginia: Let’s Follow in Their Footsteps … and Theirs, Too The Daily Press published an editorial expressing the need for Virginia to follow in the footsteps of Florida and Maryland by reforming their disenfranchisement laws. Current Virginia law permanently disenfranchises all individuals upon conviction of a felony. "They can ask to have their rights restored once they've completed their sentences, but the process is onerous, mean- spirited and uncertain. The result: More than 240,000 Virginians are deprived of the right to vote," the Press stated. Maryland: Next Step - Voter Education Drive for Newly Enfranchised Citizens In response to a remark by Maryland Senate President Mike Miller questioning the practical impact of the state's recent disenfranchisement reform, a Baltimore Sun columnist, Dan Rodricks, suggested that the state begin a voter education drive for the individuals who will be eligible to vote in July. Soon after Gov. Martin O'Malley signed legislation ending the state's post-sentence disenfranchisement laws last month, Sen. Miller said, "People that have a history of not voting are not going to just pick it up on their own." Rodricks took issue with Sen. Miller's pessimistic tone and, instead, turned his remarks into a challenge to the legislature to begin a statewide voter education campaign. "It takes bold and magnanimous leadership to create reform" and the recent developments in Maryland are an important step in that direction, but as Rodricks' column clearly shows, there is substantial remaining work to do in order to make the promise of voting rights real to thousands of Marylanders. International: Australian Woman Hopes Court Grants Voting in Prison A woman held at an Australian prison is bringing a High Court challenge to that country's disenfranchisement policies. If successful, this case could restore the right to vote for 20,000 other incarcerated Australians, according to The Age. The petitioner, Vickie Lee Roach, argues that the Commonwealth Electoral Act provisions that bar persons in prison from voting in federal elections are unconstitutional. For more coverage, see information, see news.com.au. National: Growing Momentum for Disenfranchisement Reform Coming from Both Sides of the Political Aisle A recent piece in Slate Magazine highlights the growing momentum for reform of felony disenfranchisement policies across the country. In drawing particular attention to the legislative reform in Maryland and the recent developments in Florida, Slate legal affairs columnist Emily Bazelon observed that the country is currently experiencing a "restore-the- vote craze." Moreover, Bazelon notes that while many may find it curious that a Republican governor of Florida is one of the leading figures of recent reform, it should be noted that other high profile Republicans such as former Vice-Presidential candidate Jack Kemp and Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson have joined the growing bipartisan calls for policy change. - - - - - - Help The Sentencing Project continue to bring you news and updates on disenfranchisement! Make a contribution today. Contact Information: Email: [email protected] web: http://www.sentencingproject.org
Location: 
United States

Wrongful death suit to be filed in fatal police shooting of woman, 92

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Telegraph (GA)
URL: 
http://www.macon.com/220/story/32395.html

Pleas won't end probe of Atlanta police

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
URL: 
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2007/04/27/0427metjohnston.html

2 Plead Guilty In Police Drug Raid Death

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
CBS News
URL: 
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/26/ap/national/main2731851.shtml

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