Thursday, December 29, 2005

A view from across the pond

The Guardian commented last week on the Dover decision and delivered a stinging rebuke to "George Bush's United States":
This ruling matters, not just to the parents who brought it on their children's behalf, but because the belief in biblical literalism is on the march in America. A recent survey found only 26% of Americans believe, with Darwin, that life on earth has evolved through natural selection. Two-thirds favour the teaching of creationism alongside evolution, against which the judge ruled, while 38% think evolution should not be taught in school at all. ID has powerful adherents - including Mr Bush himself - and rich and militant supporters who will make trouble for those who hold the line on behalf of Darwin, evolution and science - no corporate sponsors came forward this year for the big Darwin exhibition now in New York, for instance.

America's evolving confrontation

Guest Blogger: Ellery Schempp

Warning: Gravity is "only a theory"

All physics textbooks should include this warning label:

This textbook contains material on Gravity. Universal Gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding the natural law of attraction. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

The Universal Theory of Gravity is often taught in schools as a "fact," when in fact it is not even a good theory.

First of all, no one has measured gravity for every atom and every star. It is simply a religious belief that it is "universal." Secondly, school textbooks routinely make false statements. For example, "the moon goes around the earth." If the theory of gravity were true, it would show that the sun's gravitational force on the moon is much stronger than the earth's gravitational force on the moon, so the moon has to go around the sun. Anybody can look up at night and see the obvious gaps in gravity theory.

The existence of tides is often taken as proof of gravity, but this is logically flawed. Because if the moon's "gravity" were responsible for a bulge underneath it, then how can anyone explain a high tide on the opposite side of the earth at the same time? Anyone can observe that there are two high tides every day--not just one. It is far more likely that tides were given to us by an Intelligent Creator long ago and they have been with us ever since. In any case, two high tides falsifies gravity.

While micro-gravity is observed when, for example, dropping an egg on the floor, this does not prove that macro-gravity exists. If there is macrogravity, why don't the sun, the moon, and the planets all fall down and hit the earth? Some say that planetary orbits are proof of gravity. According to gravitationalists, gravity applies in a straight line between different objects. Gravity does not make things spin in circles. But the planets do move in circles, and then gravitationalists say such orbits prove macro-gravity. This is merely circular reasoning.

There are numerous alternative theories that should be taught on an equal basis. For example, the observed behavior of the earth revolving around the sun can be perfectly explained if the sun has a net positive charge and the planets have a net negative charge, since opposite charges attract and the force is an inverse-square law, exactly as the increasingly discredited Theory of Gravity. Physics and chemistry texts emphasize that this is the explanation for electrons going around the nucleus, so if it works for atoms, why not for the solar system? The answer is simple: scientific orthodoxy.

The U.S. Patent Office has never issued a patent for anti-gravity. Why is this? According to natural law and homeopathy, everything exists in opposites: good-evil; grace-sin; positive charges-negative charges; north poles-south poles; good vibes-bad vibes; etc. We know there are anti-evolutionists, so why not anti-gravitationalists? It is clearly a matter of the scientific establishment elite protecting their own. Anti-gravity papers are routinely rejected from peer-reviewed journals, and scientists who propose anti-gravity quickly lose their funding. Universal gravity theory is just a way to keep the grant money flowing.

Gravity totally fails to explain why Saturn has rings and Jupiter does not. It utterly fails to account for obesity. In fact, what it does "explain" is far out-weighed by what it does not explain.

When the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, he relied on "gravitational calculations." But Tombaugh was a Unitarian, a liberal religious group that supports the Theory of Gravity. The present-day Unitarian-Universalists continue to rely on liberal notions and dismiss ideas of anti-gravity as unfounded. Tombaugh never even attempted to justify his "gravitational calculations" on the basis of Scripture, and he went on to be a founding member of the liberal Unitarian Fellowship of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The theory of gravity violates common sense in many ways. Adherents have a hard time explaining, for instance, why airplanes do not fall. Since anti-gravity is rejected by the scientific establishment, they resort to lots of hand-waving. The theory, if taken seriously, implies that the default position for all airplanes is on the ground. While this is obviously true for Northwest airplanes (relying on "a wing and a prayer"), it appears that Jet Blue and Southwest have superior methods that effectively overcome the weight of masses at Northwest, and thus harness forces that succeed over so-called gravity.

It is unlikely that the Law of Gravity will be repealed given the present geo-political climate, but there is no need to teach unfounded theories in the public schools. There is, indeed, evidence that the Theory of Gravity is having a grave effect on morality. Activist judges and left-leaning teachers often use the phrase "what goes up must come down" as a way of describing gravity, and relativists have been quick to apply this to moral standards and common decency.

It is not even clear why we need a theory of gravity -- there is not a single mention in the Bible, and the patriotic founding fathers never referred to it. If gravity wasn't important in Moses' day or Jefferson's day, it is ridiculous to take it seriously at this time.

Finally, the mere name "Universal Theory of Gravity" or "Theory of Universal Gravity" (the secularists like to use confusing language) has a distinctly socialist ring to it. The core idea of "to each according to his weight, from each according to his mass" is communist. There is no reason that gravity should apply to the just and the unjust equally, and the saved should have relief from such "universalism." And, if we have Universal Gravity now, then Universal health care will be sure to follow. It is this kind of universalism that saps a nation's moral fiber.

Overall, the Theory of Universal Gravity is just not an attractive theory. It is based on borderline evidence, has many serious gaps in what it claims to explain, is clearly wrong in important respects, and has social and moral deficiencies. If taught in the public schools, by mis-directed "educators," it has to be balanced with alternative, more attractive theories with genuine gravamen and spiritual gravitas.

Ellery Schemp is a retired physicist who taught physics at the University of Pittsburgh, worked on nuclear waste issues at the Department of Energy, and was a consultant on energy technology. His family successfully sued the Abington School District over the reading of Bible verses in school in Abington v. Schempp, which was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Catching up with Ellery Schempp of Abington v. Schempp

As a result of the Dover decision, we've been receiving a lot of correspondence and congratulations from across the country. A long-time friend of the ACLU of PA, Ellery Schempp, called last week to offer his congratulations. As you legal scholars may know, Ellery's family took on the Abington School District in the late 1950s when Ellery was in 11th grade. At issue was the reading of Bible verses in public schools, as mandated by Pennsylvania law, and the family was ultimately successful before the United States Supreme Court in 1963, after Ellery had graduated and while his sister and brother were still in school. The Court voted 8-1 in favor of the Schempps.

Abington v. Schempp is now listed as one of the ACLU's 100 Greatest Hits.

We took the opportunity to talk with Ellery about the Dover case and his own experience as an original plaintiff in his family's case. Now 65-years-old and living in a suburb of Boston, it was apparent that Ellery is passionate about the issue of religious liberty and that he had followed the Dover case closely.

"It's a great decision," he said. "Judge Jones wrote it beautifully and got to the heart of the issue.

"I was just giddy for days afterwards," he said with a laugh.

A lack of knowledge of both government and science seems to be at the heart of the struggle over evolution and the role of religion in schools and government. Ellery noted that some public schools in Massachusetts no longer require civics as part of the social studies curriculum.

"People are very uneducated on these matters," he said. "They're not very familiar with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

"If they knew the science of evolution, the desire for intelligent design would diminish. It all fits together to create an amazingly beautiful picture of how the planet formed."

Ellery's professional life included time as a physics professor at the University of Pittsburgh, a position with the Department of Energy working on nuclear waste, and a position as a consultant on energy technology. One of his clients was the government of New Zealand.

As high profile plaintiffs in a high profile case, Ellery feels that the Dover plaintiffs have already been through the worst of the storm.

"They've probably received letters," he said. "Some will be supportive, some will be civil, and some will be nasty.

"The worst of it will have passed by now."

42 years of hindsight have reinforced Ellery's feelings about his family's case. "It was the right decision. It was good for the nation," he said. "As we've become more diverse, it's made the nation stronger."

Ellery also expressed his concern about the state of the union on this issue. "In the late '50s, we were more civil. The country is more polarized than it was. I find that disturbing."

We spent some time discussing the movement of some evangelical Christians to inject their brand of religion into government. Ellery expressed his belief that this movement has changed since the 1950s.

"They had their beliefs and went about their lives," he said. "There is now a desire for public piety."

We finished the conversation by bringing it back to Dover. Ellery is confident that while it may not completely disappear, the intelligent design movement will struggle after the Dover decision.

"The intelligent design movement has internal struggles," he said. "We see Rick Santorum has backed away from his support. These fissures will become more pronounced. I'm hopeful the intelligent design movement will wane."

He also stated that conservatives are debating each other over ID, which is evident on the internet and in the press. "It's quite heartwarming to see conservatives arguing vigorously for evolution," he said. "There's a significant number of politically and socially conservative Republicans who vigorously oppose teaching ID in schools. They think it's making the conservative movement look foolish."

Andy in Harrisburg

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ACLU finally busted in War on Christmas

To bring an end to the bloody war on Christmas, the ACLU of Texas has turned us in.
Operation Kill Christmas: Scenes from the War Room
Atop every mountain we've secretly placed an army of green grinches prepared to sled down on Christmas morning into towns across America to steal presents from toddlers.

Don't believe it? I tell you I've seen the secret grinch training facilities.

The War Room for Operation Kill Christmas lies in a bunker deep underground. That's also where we keep all our Communists. I know most of you thought Communism was dead after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's not true. They're all huddled deep underground in our secret ACLU bunker.

I knew that ACLU-TX was the Benedict Arnold amongst us. What they say must be true: Don't mess with Texas.

Have your rights violated, defend your family, get the death sentence

Hot talk in the blogosphere is the case of Corey Maye of Prentiss, Mississippi. For a ton of detail on the case, check out, but I'll summarize it. On December 26, Prentiss police planned a midnight raid of Maye's next door neighbor with whom Maye shares a duplex. The police thought that the duplex was a single unit and busted into Maye's home, too. Maye was asleep and at home alone with his 18-month-old daughter at the time. Thinking that there was an intruder in his home, Maye opened fire on the first police officer who came into his bedroom and killed him.

In January of 2004, a jury of 12 Mississipians convicted Maye and sentenced him to death.

Here is's original post on the case, which includes more detail about the raid, the jury's motivation (which is just bizarre), and the inconsistencies in the story the police told.

As the father of a two-year-old girl, this one hits close to home.

Abolish the Death Penalty, the blog of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, has a fairly thorough vetting of the various blogs that have been commenting on Maye's case.

Oh, and one last note. Maye is black and the officer, Ron Jones, was white. I know, you're shocked.

Andy in H-burg

A Brit, a Mexican-American, and a Texan walk into a bar

Or into the ongoing controversy over keeping America both safe and free.

A quick scan through some media sources finds the press continuing its examination of civil liberties issues in the post-9/11 world.

The Oakland Tribune put it quite bluntly on Friday: Big Brother is watching
We are told that it's better not to know what our government is doing in our name, for security purposes. Meanwhile, our government is becoming omnipresent, spying on us whenever it deems it necessary.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

George Orwell was right after all.

In 1949, Orwell penned "1984," a dark, futuristic satire in which the totalitarian government used indoctrination, propaganda and fear to enforce order and conformity. His "Big Brother" - the face of this all-knowing regime - was never wrong, and to make sure of it, history was constantly being rewritten.

Orwell wrote his book as a cautionary tale to underscore the insidious danger of slowly eroded individual liberties. His Thought Police may not yet be on the march, but it's not hyperbole to point out the eerie parallels with today's America.

In America today, Big Brother is watching.

(If you read the full editorial, please keep in mind that the ACLU takes no position on war. I've posted this because of the brilliant commentary about- what else- civil liberties.)

The OT noted this from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: "I'm as concerned about the privacy of American citizens as anyone

(audience laughter) Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy a nice, tall glass of Lip Service.

but we cannot allow libraries and use of libraries to become safe havens for terrorists," Gonzales said in July, defending one of the act's most controversial provisions.

This is yet another example of the government using misinformation to distract the public and sway us toward their way of thinking. No one has said that law enforcement should be completely banned from libraries. We simply want there to be evidence to justify a library search. The Patriot Act allows the FBI and the DOJ to gain search warrants or write National Security Letters without showing any evidence of wrongdoing or potential wrongdoing.

Of course, in light of the recent revelation that the FBI thinks that PETA and Greenpeace endanger national security, they probably want to know who is checking out Earth in the Balance and Slaughterhouse.

Columnist J.R. Labbe of the Forth Worth Star Telegram took the administration to task for trampling on the Constitution:
It's ironic that on the day when Christians herald the arrival of the Light of the World and Jews begin their eight-day Festival of Light known as Hanukkah, our nation is re-visiting a very dark chapter of history.

The same document that guarantees every American the right to mark this day as a Christian holiday, or a Jewish holiday, or a cultural holiday such as Kwanzaa or just a day off from work is the same document that the executive branch of the federal government thinks it can ignore in the name of national security.

The enumeration of citizens' rights known as the Bill of Rights -- everything from free speech to the right to be secure in one's home -- isn't just a listing of suggestions that can be ignored when they become inconvenient.

Labbe also would not let Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) off the hook:
Cornyn had the gall to say that "none of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead." He may have a point -- a very bad one. That kind of sound-bite fearmongering indicates the weakness of this administration's argument.

In response, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) said, "Give me liberty or give me death."

Bringing it closer to home, the (Harrisburg) Patriot News wrote an editorial yesterday in which the paper called for "more protections for Americans, not fewer" and "more debate and more consideration of civil liberties, rather than less".
Still time to protect rights

Andy in the HBG

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What's in the House egg nog?

The barkeep needs to cut these guys off.

House OKs one-month Patriot Act extension

I need a poli-sci prof to explain this to me:
Approval came on a voice vote in a nearly empty chamber

Do I have this straight? Rep. I.M. Crazy can walk into the House, bring legislation to the floor, and hold a voice vote with no one there.

That rumble you just heard was James Madison rolling over in his grave.

Andy in the HBG

Patriot Act cliffhanger continues

Wow. That's all I can say. From the AP:

WASHINGTON - House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner threatened Thursday to block passage of legislation renewing the anti-terror Patriot Act, Republican officials disclosed.

The Senate passed a six-month extension Wednesday night, and House approval is required by Dec. 31 to keep in place the enhanced law enforcement powers first enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Full article

Dover fallout

I see someone beat me to it in the comments on the previous post this morning, but yes, it's been confirmed in today's Harrisburg Patriot News that the US Middle District Attorney's office is reviewing testimony in the Dover intelligent design case to decide whether to pursue perjury charges.

In other fun Dover trial-related news, Senator Rick Santorum is now saying he "intends to withdraw his affiliation with the Michigan-based public-interest law firm [Thomas More Law Center] that promotes Christian values," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said.

You may remember that Santorum had been a big proponent of teach intelligent design, and his editorial on the subject was featured prominently in the special newsletter the Dover Area school board sent out to the district after it added the intelligent design statement to the curriculum.

Sara in Philly

Common sense prevails in D.C.

There's a headline you don't see everyday.

The Senate has passed a six-month extension of the Patriot Act so that the concerns of a bipartisan group of senators, 400 communities across the country, seven state legislatures, and millions of people who love the Constitution can be considered. This will allow the Congress and the administration to consider ways to both protect liberty and protect the homeland. Hmmm, that could make for a nifty little phrase. Safety and Freedom? Safely and Freely? I've got it! Safe & Free!

This extension means the ACLU-PA staff will have to buck up and bust it to advocate for serious reform, but we don't mind. That's why we're here, to defend freedom.

Andy in H-burg

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Good times

As you can imagine, it's been a pretty good couple of days around here. We're all walking around with goofy grins on our faces. Not a bad way to end a rather tumultuous year. (Now if only the Senate maintains its stance on the Patriot Act....)

Of course we spent some time today reading our own press (what can I say, it's not every day that our cases make international news). Here are a few:

From the York Daily Record (who really has done an amazing job covering the trial.) Best of all, we get one last ID-related column from Mike Argneto!

New board isn't planning appeal

Design knocked out: Some hoping for wide impact

Judge: Ex-members lied in testimony

Smackdown in evolution ruling (Mike Argento's column)

From the New York Times

A very thoughtful editorial by Bruce Feiler. I definitely recommend it.
Teach, Don't Preach, the Bible

Judge Rejects Teaching Intelligent Design

This has a fun quote from Bill Buckingham, who Judge Jones accused of being less than truthful, shall we say.

Mr. Buckingham said he "answered the questions the way they asked them." He called the decision "ludicrous" and said, "I think Judge Jones ought to be ashamed of himself."

From the Harrisburg Patriot News:
Historic ruling orders Dover to rescind policy

This has an even better quote from Buckingham.

Contacted at his home in Mount Airy, N.C., Buckingham said of Jones: "If he says I'm a liar, he's a liar. I would love to be in a room one on one with him, with cameras. I would like to ask him where it says in the Constitution that there is a separation of church and state. If someone violated the Constitution, it was the Supreme Court when it said there was a separation of church and state, and Judge Jones.

"It's one thing to lose playing by the rules. It's another thing to lose by having things taken away unjustly, and that's what happened in Dover."

I particularly enjoyed the "If he says I'm a liar, he's a liar" part. Brings back fond memories of arguing with my brother. When we were in elementary school.

It's pretty clear at this point that there will be no appeal. The new board president said that the school board would not appeal, and the school board's attorneys, the Thomas More Law Center, said they would not appeal unless directed to by the school board.

And thanks for all the congratulations, by the way. We've made sure the attorneys in the case have received them. Hopefully they'll now be able to get some well-deserved rest.

Sara in Philly

FBI? Surveillance?

"Ecoterror is any crime committed in the name of saving nature."

"The Catholic Workers Group also advocates a communist distribution of resources."

"[PETA hires} interns from Asia and otherlocations for the sole purpose of committing criminal acts."(excerpts from FBI Files)
As the ACLU has been documenting the surveillance activities of the federal government through our "FBI Spy Files Project," we were not shocked to see the front page New York Times article that highlighted FBI "intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief." We're pleased, though, to see that someone's paying attention (finally) and at a time that might just impact the future of the PATRIOT Act. What that future looks like is anyone's best guess, but we applaud the efforts of some Senators to take a stand in this big game of chicken.

The latest from PA's senior senator is this:
"Specter said he is trying to broker a deal that would allow the Senate to pass the current legislation "on my commitment to take up issues that they are so worried about. We'd have hearings early next year and consider the amendments, no commitment as to passage, but give consideration to that so we don't have the Patriot Act lapse, since it's important to America."
In the meantime, here's a DIY guide to filing your own personal Freedom of Information Act Request.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"pro-child, pro-evolution, pro-science, pro-education"

Dozens of reporters from across the state, the nation, and the globe squeezed into a conference room at Pepper Hamilton's Harrisburg office as the plaintiffs and legal team basked in the glow of their victory in the Dover intelligent design case, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District et al.

"The real heroes in this story are the plaintiffs," said Vic Walczak, ACLU-PA legal director. "They live in this community. They stood up to the schoolboard.

"They are very, very courageous individuals."

It was clear that the legal team feels that Judge Jones' decision is a best-case scenario.

"This opinion is a complete victory," said Eric Rothschild of Pepper Hamilton.

"We hope that school districts considering intelligent design will read Judge Jones' decision," Vic said, "and give pause."

Vic also talked about the negative impact of the situation on the community and noted the role of religion in government.

"The name calling, the tension, and the strife is as disturbing as it is predictable," he said and then mentioned that plaintiff Brian Rehm, a Bible school teacher, was called "an atheist bleep."

"Dover is exhibit A for what happens when government injects itself into religion."

Judge Jones clearly made it onto a lot of people's Christmas card list. (I might even send him a fruitcake.)

"Thank you, Judge Jones," said Tammy Kitzmiller, the plaintiff whose name graces the case's title. "You know our role as parents."

Tammy also expressed her appreciation to the legal team of attorneys from Pepper Hamilton, ACLU-PA, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"Thank you for taking on this important issue," she said. "You are the A-Team, and we're glad you're on our side."

Eric commented specifically on Jones' 139 page opinion.

"He expressed his astonishment about the drafts of Of Pandas and People." In her expert testimony, Dr. Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University pointed out that early drafts of the ID textbook used forms of the word "creation" until the Edwards v. Aguillard decision outlawed creation science in 1987 and that later drafts simply substituted "creation" with "design".

"The emperor of intelligent design had no clothes," Eric said. "The assertions of intelligent design have no evidence."

Pepper litigator Steve Harvey also praised the decision, saying, "This decision is pro-child, pro-evolution, pro-science, and pro-education."

Both Eric and Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, expect creationism/creation science/intelligent design to trudge on.

"We expect a change to another label," Eric said and noted that some possibilities are "abrupt emergence" and "teach the controversy".

"We are going to see the continuing evolution of intelligent design," Eugenie said.

Barrie Callhan, a plaintiff and former school board member, issued a warning to all citizens.

"Watch your school boards."

Andy in H-burg

Discovery Institute Responds

Today, the Discovery Institute issued a press release in response to Judge Jones's decision, criticizing it "as a futile attempt to censor science education."

The Discovery Institute focused on issues of "academic freedom" in their release. At the plaintiff's press conference in Harrisburg, today National Center of Science Education Director Eugenie Scott responded to that issue, in reference to the choice of the Gull Lake, Michigan school district to teach what Scott called a "shmorgesbord of creationism." Scott said that "it was unwise" to assume that "teachers have a constitutional right to teach bad science."

About that "bad science, the DI says this:
"A legal ruling can't change the fact that there is digital code in DNA, it can't remove the molecular machines from the cell, nor change the fine tuning of the laws of physics," added West "The empirical evidence for design, the facts of biology and nature, can't be changed by legal decree."
Yes, yes, and by "machine," you mean machine. But, that is still not evidence of a designer.

In DI's press release, Judge Jones was labeled an "activist judge" by DI, not once but twice, and accused of having "delusions of grandeur." The judge anticipated their comments with this statement:
"Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy."

Amy Laura in the Philadelphia Office

We won!

Judge John E. Jones, III, has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District.

Hmm, where to start?

Maybe with the place where Judge Jones concludes that Dover's "ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause" and that
"to preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, ยง 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID."
Or...with his statement that intelligent design is not science "and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."

Or, perhaps, with the stinging statement that
"the citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."
Or, we can just suggest you read the whole 139 pages yourself. Here you go... Enjoy.

Press Coverage:
AP Stories: "Judge Bars 'Intelligent Design' From Pa. Classes"
"Decision in Pa. case makes Kansas standards vulnerable, some say"

York Daily Record: "Judge rules against Dover school board"

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Federal judge: Intelligent design unconstitutional""

New York Times: "Judge Bars 'Intelligent Design' From Pa. Classes"

American Institute of Physics Press Release: "Scientists, Teachers, Clergy Hail Court Ruling"

NPR: "'Intelligent Design' Barred from Dover, Pa. Schools"
"Teaching Evolution: A State-by-State Debate"

Panda's Thumb Blog: "What the Dover Case Says"

Amy Laura in the Philadelphia Office

Monday, December 19, 2005

If you ever need help Mr. O'Reilly, we'll be there for you.

No, really, we mean it.
We were there for Rush when he needed us. And we were there for the Rev. Jerry Falwell too. So the way we see it, it's probably just a matter of time before we get your phone call.

Come to think of it, for an organization so frequently deemed 'Liberal' and 'anti-Christian,' we seem to help an awful lot of Conservatives and Christians--especially at Christmastime.

Lisa in Pittsburgh

**Dover decision to be announced tomorrow!**

Judge Jones's chambers confirmed today that the judge's decision in the Dover intelligent design trial will be released tomorrow, Tuesday, December 20. We will get the decision posted as soon as possible.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pinch me, I must be dreaming - Senate Stops Patriot Act

Can it really be? Did 47 Senators really have the, uh, guts to stand up against the anti-civil liberties brigade? (Okay, really 46 - Frist voted as one of the 47 due to a technical procedural rule that allows him to bring up the vote again if he voted against it. Or something like that.)

But the point is... the Patriot Act Reauthorization was filibustered! It's hard to believe. Despite watching the vote live on C-Span, we didn't really believe it had happened until we saw the CNN story confirming it.

Several of the senators tied in their votes to the disclosure in today's New York Times that the NSA has been secretly (and illegally) eavesdropping on US citizens in this country. After all, it does tend to shed a wee bit of doubt that the government isn't abusing its powers under the Patriot Act, as it has repeatedly claimed.

The vote split largely down party lines. All Democrats voted to filibuster except Tim Johnson (SD) and Ben Nelson (FL). We picked up Republicans Larry Craig (ID), John Sununu (NH), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Chuck Hagel(NE).

As for what next, it's not clear. A three month extension has been proposed to allow more time for discussion, but Frist reiterated after the vote that he will not support that, nor will the president. They prefer to let the Patriot Act expire then wait.

Sara in Philly

A real nail biter

When we were organizing anti-Patriot Act activities this past spring and summer, none of us would have envisioned that on Dec. 16, Congress still wouldn't have passed a renewal of the act. It's coming down to the wire. According to AP reports on Yahoo from a couple of minutes ago, it's possible that the sunsetting provisions of the Patriot Act will be allowed to expire. Here's what they said:

The White House and its congressional allies prefer to let the provisions expire and hold Democrats responsible in next year's midterm elections rather than let opponents whittle away at the law.

Truly riveting stuff. Stay tuned!

Your tax dollars at work

You'd think with all the discussion about torture and the Patriot Act, the House of Representatives would have more than enough work to keep itself busy. But clearly not, if yesterday's vote on House Resolution 579 is any indication. What is House Resolution 579, you ask? With all the problems facing this country, surely it's something about the war in Iraq, or Katrina relief, or the budget deficit.

Nope. It's a resolution to fight alleged "attempts to ban mention of Christmas" and expresses support for and "recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas." (It passed by a vote of 401-22, by the way.)

The one bright spot in this ridiculousness was Michigan Congressman John D. Dingell's reading of his adaptation of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Here's a selection from it:

Wait--- we need a distraction--- something divisive and wily;
A fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly
We can pretend that Christmas is under attack
Hold a vote to save it---then pat ourselves on the back;
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger
Wake up Congress, they're in no danger

Sara in Philly

Thursday, December 15, 2005

How the patriots got their mo' back

The momentum to filibuster the conference committee's Patriot Act renewal bill is gaining steam. In the last 24 hours, The Civil Liberties Six (Feingold, Durbin, Salazar, Sununu, Murkowski, Craig) have been joined by Senators Chuck Hagel (R-Neb), John Kerry (D-Mass), and Barack Obama (D-Ill). These three signed on to a "Dear Colleague" letter expressing disappointment with the conference report.

Today the AP is reporting that Senator Dianne Feinstein, a co-sponsor of the original Patriot Act, is backing the filibuster.

It's on. It is so on.

Andy in H-burg

Patriot Act action update

Assuming a filibuster happens in the Senate, here's an update from the Washington Post on a potential timeline:
Frist said he would not accept a "short-term extension" of the existing Patriot Act. But many Democrats and some Republicans want a one- or three-month renewal of the law to allow more time to negotiate the proposed four-year extension after Congress's winter recess. The first votes testing the filibuster are expected tomorrow.

Washington Post: House votes to revise, extend Patriot Act, angering Senators

Meanwhile, Senator Feingold continues to keep readers updated at TPMCafe. Last night he gave a speech on the floor of the Senate that you can read here. Here's a taste:
Rather than engage in a true debate on the controversial parts of the Patriot Act, as Senator Specter did yesterday, many proponents of the Patriot Act just point to non-controversial provisions of the Patriot Act and talk about how important they are. They say this bill must be passed because it reauthorizes those non-controversial provisions. That does not advance the debate, it just muddies the waters. I have news for those who would try that tactic here. It won't work. We don't have to accept bad provisions to make sure the good provisions become law.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

HB 1318 now disenfranchises less people

Yesterday the PA Senate's State Government Committee amended HB 1318 in positive ways. First, the committee removed the provision that would take away voting rights from ex-felons. Second, the committee increased the types of ID that could be used at the polls to include non-photo IDs like a utility bill or bank statement because everyone carries their utility bills and bank statements to the polls.

The following is from ACLU-PA legislative director Larry Frankel:
While the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania appreciates the improvements that have been made to HB 1318, we believe that further changes should be made so that the legislation will not interfere with the voting rights of thousands of Pennsylvanians who come to the polls on Election Day...

The amendment also changed the identification requirements. No longer will photo identification be required from every voter. However, every voter will be required to show some form of identification and some of the types of identification listed in the bill are not ones that some people have or can easily obtain. This identification requirement will cause delays and longer lines on Election Day. It will also create more work for Election Day workers.

Interestingly, this bill still does not impose identification requirements on people who vote by absentee ballot. Thus, the bill makes it more difficult to vote in person than to vote by absentee ballot.

The sections of the bill concerning provisional ballots were not changed by the amendment. Thus, the bill makes it harder to have a provisional ballot counted. The bill says that if a voter does not have one of the necessary forms of identification, the voter is to vote a provisional ballot. However, if that provisional ballot is challenged, the voter will have to present identification to the county board of elections in order to have the provisional ballot counted. This means that a voter who does not have identification with him/her on Election Day will have to get the necessary identification and travel to the county board of elections in order to have his/her vote counted.

Furthermore, thanks to the identification provisions, the bill will also lead to the casting of many more provisional ballots. Thus, we can expect to see even more problems associated with the failure to print a sufficient number of provisional ballots and the loss of the right to vote for people who come to the polls after all of the provisional ballots have been used.

In closing, let there be no doubt - this bill still makes it harder for thousands of Pennsylvanians to vote.

And I like this from Lou's List:
(I)t ignores (the) fact that the most pervasive type of fraud perpetrated in recent elections has been discouraging eligible voters from voting, not ineligible voters casting ballots.

"A little bit of the liberty tree will have died"

"Excuse me, sir. This is an event of 'national significance' and that was an inappropriate question. Off to the klink with ya!"

House approves Patriot Act extension

Some choice quotes

The patriots...
"If we enact the bill as written, a little bit of the liberty tree will have died," said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass).

"At a time when so much of the world questions our commitment to our own values, I urge my colleagues to show the American people and the world that we will defend our country but we will do so in a way that protect those rights that make it worth defending," said Rep. Martin Meehan (D-Mass).


And the fearmongers...
"Renewing the Patriot Act before it expires in December is literally a matter of life and death," said Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla).

"The Patriot Act is essential to fighting the war on terror and preventing our enemies from striking America again," (President Bush) said. "In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment."

And the topper, an important tool for fighting.....meth terrorists???

Included in the House-Senate accord is a measure to restrict and record the sale of products necessary to cook methamphetamine, including ingredients in many cold medicines. If passed, the act would also give $99 million a year for five years to arrest and prosecute dealers and traffickers, plus $20 million for two years to help children affected by the meth trade.

"Doing so will send a strong signal that Congress is serious about fighting the scourge of meth," said Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn).

How PA's delegation voted
All of PA's Republicans voted "yes" except Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown), who voted "no", and Rep. John Peterson (R-Pleasantville), who did not vote.

All of PA's Democrats voted "no" except Rep. Tim Holden (D-Saint Clair) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Jenkintown), who both voted "yes".

Complete roll call vote

Freedom of speech....Just watch what you say 2

Pennsylvania high school lets student wear anti-Bush t-shirt after all

We have numerous news reports to link to on this story, but seemed like the best choice, in light of my (futile) attempts to stay hip today (tragically hip, perhaps), with references to Rolling Stone and hip-hop culture (and an Ice T reference, if you caught it...actually, I guess Ice T isn't really that hip anymore, unless you're a fan of Law & Order: SVU).

Freedom of speech....Just watch what you say

The war on rap: Is it real?

Had to post this article from the Village Voice for two reasons. First, it talks about the Latour student rapper case. Second, and most amusingly, it refers to a "bad a** pro bono ACLU lawyer". I don't know that any of our attorneys have ever been referred to as "bad a**". Well, that's not true. They've been referred to as "bad" and "a**" but not for positive reasons.


Andy in the HBG

Rolling Stone got it wrong

Last month Rolling Stone covered the Dover trial, Darwinian Warfare. ACLU-PA legal director Vic Walczak submitted the letter below, which RS has yet to print.

To the editor:

As the ACLU lawyer in the Intelligent Design case, I write on behalf of the plaintiffs and their lawyers to voice two objections to last week's article on the Kitzmiller v. Dover School District lawsuit.

First, the story's sensationalist theme, that support for evolution cannot be reconciled with a belief in God, is simply wrong. Our lead-off expert, Brown University biology professor Kenneth Miller, is a man of deep faith; most of the eleven Dover-parent plaintiffs adhere to one religion or another; and three of the plaintiffs teach Bible school. While some people remain conflicted, millions have reconciled faith and reason, including adherents of many major denominations, such as Catholicism. Science and religion clearly can, and for many people do, co-exist comfortably.

Second, we object strongly to the gratuitous slurs on the school district's lawyers. The lawyer mentioned in the story has treated our clients with respect and courtesy, and has been doing a good job in court as an advocate for his clients. The character assassination was unwarranted and unfair.

The real story, which was missed, is that Dover is "exhibit A" for what happens when elected officials inject their personal religious views into public affairs. Board members opposed to the policy testified that colleagues questioned their faith, plaintiffs testified that they were called "atheist ---holes" and worse, and that what once was a peaceful community has been splintered by religious strife.

Many different faiths have for two hundred years co-existed peaceably in this country - we've been spared the religious violence seen in the Middle East, Bosnia and elsewhere - precisely because our Constitution prohibits government officials from mixing religion and politics. This was the genius of our founding fathers and it has helped fulfill the dream that America is a nation of real religious liberty, where millions of pious people, separated by different belief systems, live together in peace.

Witold J. Walczak
Legal Director
ACLU of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Your reward for continuing to read our blog....

This must have been how Bob Woodward felt... Okay, I'm exaggerating just a wee bit. But I am excited to bring you the scoop that we expect Judge Jones to release his decision on the intelligent design trial early next week. Did Christmas, oops, I mean, "the holidays" come early for us? Stay tuned....

Also, for your reading pleasure, here is our side's reply to the friend-of-the-court briefs filed by the Discovery Institute and the Foundation for Thought and Ethics.

The Other "Junior Senator from Wisconsin"

And by that I mean the one in favor of civil liberties...
Senator Russ Feingold is this week's guest blogger on TPMCafe, providing us with the latest on the PATRIOT Act.
"The current betting is that the House will take up the Patriot Act conference report tomorrow (Wednesday). If it passes, it will then come to the Senate, and a vote to cut off debate - i.e., prevent a filibuster -- is likely to take place Friday morning. So that's the key vote in the Senate. Now is the time to contact your Senators..."
And, then, there are the "No Free Speech Zones"
Meanwhile, the ACLU came out against a new provision that gives Secret Service additional leeway to restrict people (read: protesters) from events "of national significance," even without the presence of a high ranking official at the event. Failure to comply could result in a six month to one year prison sentence. Here's the article from the Washington Post, in which Specter is quoted as being "a little surprised at the concern" about the heightened secuirty measures.

"Just closing a loophole," Specter's office says. What would that have meant for PA's Smoketown Six? I guess we didn't need that pesky free speech anyway...

Monday, December 12, 2005

How to Make an Ex-Felon Mad

I tell you, the best way to get people to care about something is to try and take it away from them.

Take the Anti-Voting Rights Bill (otherwise known by its nom de guerre PA House Bill 1318). Across the state, we've seen ex-offenders engaging in the issue of voting rights, meeting with their representatives, producing and distributing flyers, holding press conferences...all because they are pissed off about HB 1318 trying to shut them out of the political process.

In Pittsburgh, an elderly gentleman named House has stepped up to lead the fight. Now active in a violence prevention program, House is serving life on parole for a crime committed in his youth. If the Anti-Voting Rights Bill is passed, he will never be able to vote again.

House is mad as hell. He's made a personal commitment to keeping Rendell from getting re-elected if the governor signs this bill into law. House spends hours every week getting the word out to ex-offenders that they have a right to vote, and that politicians are trying to take that right away.

So, who knows? The Flying Spaghetti Monster works in mysterious ways. Maybe the Anti-Voting Rights Bill will actually end up increasing ex-offender participation in the next election.

Unless, of course, it gets passed. That would rain on our parade.

So stay tuned--the State Senate Government Committee is scheduled to take up HB 1318 tomorrow.

Lisa in Pittsburgh

Friday, December 09, 2005

Adding insult to injury?

I must admit, I'm starting to feel sorry for the residents of Dover. (But hey, that won't stop me from watching the show and giggling along.)

From the York Daily Record:


The satirical news program "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" came to town Monday to, once again, make fun of Dover.

Correspondent Samantha Bee spent the day in the area reporting on what it's like to live in a town that, according to televangelist Pat Robertson, has been forsaken by God for voting out school board members who supported including intelligent design in the high school biology curriculum, said Matt Polidoro, a producer with the show.

The piece is expected to air next week.

The show, a parody of broadcast journalism, last reported on Dover during a special week of reports in September titled "Evolution Schmevolution."

Sara in Philly

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Police State 2 Freedom 0, Bottom of the 9th

Washington Post: House, Senate Republicans reach deal on Patriot Act

Thankfully, the power hitters in the Senate still get a swing of the bat.

Freedom's big sticks are the Civil Liberties Six, who issued a statement today:
Bipartisan group of Senators respond to Patriot Act conference report

And National ACLU weighed in.

The timing of today's ACLU-PA op-ed in The Patriot News is, well...I don't know what to say about this: Specter key to common sense on Patriot Act

Let's be clear: This game is not over. (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!) This unconstitutional reauthorization of the Patriot Act has yet to be passed. Call your senators and representative today! Ask your Congressional representatives to support true reform of the Patriot Act, not the conference committee's stomping on our freedom. No to the committee's bill! Yes to freedom!

The kid is alright

QUESTION: What can a junior government and history major at Millersville University figure out that still baffles Bill O'Reilly, Rev. Jerry Falwell, and Sean Hannity?

ANSWER: That there is no ACLU war on Christmas.

ACLU gets a bad rap during holidays

(The Snapper has to be one of the best names for a college newspaper. I don't get what it means, but it sounds cool.)

Then there's John Gibson. As much as I want to read his book Christmas under Siege, he's not getting my $25. Maybe I should send it to the ACLU and then send John a card that says, "Happy Holidays! I just sent the ACLU a donation in your name!"

So, those of us who won't shell out the coin for the book will have to rely on media reports about it. And Peter Hannaford obliged in the November 29 Washington Times. Now, check this out:
Mr. Gibson cites several examples, such as the Plano, Texas, school district that banned green and red paper plates from holiday parties; the school district in Kansas which fired its veteran Santa Claus because he told students that the we celebrate Christmas Day as the day Jesus was born; and the district in Covington, Ga., which stopped referring to the Christmas break on its printed calendar.

Freeze it! Note that in this quote and in the paragraphs around it in the op-ed there is no connection made between the ACLU and these situations. Essentially, their claim is that the ACLU is Kaiser Soze, not seen but felt. (If you didn't get that last reference, go see The Usual Suspects. Now.)

Roll tape...

The intimidation by the ACLU so rattles school administrators, Mr. Gibson says, that in one school district, officials banned the playing of purely orchestral versions of Christmas carols. In another, when children brought small packets of gifts to give to one another, the packets were confiscated because one student brought a packet that included candy canes described as being curved to represent the "J" in "Jesus." This may have pleased the ACLU, but it abridged the student's right to free expression. This student-to-student communication was constitutional.

Freeze it! Of course, the ACLU knows this. We know this because we defended students in Mass a few years ago who were stopped from handing out candy canes with a religious message.

Kinda blows a hole in the ol' theory, ay, John? Happy holidays!

How the secular humanist grinch didn't steal Christmas

Turn back the 1787

Dick Thompson and the Thomas More Law Center graced the front page of the Detroit News on Sunday. Among its issues, TMLC lists opposing reproductive freedom, opposing religious liberty for non-Christians, and opposing scientific discovery.....OK, fine, that's not exactly how he put it. Here's a quote from Dick:
"If we succeed in those issues, we will succeed in returning to our culture established by our Founding Fathers," said Thompson, 68, president and chief counsel of the firm.

I can't help but chuckle when I hear about "original intent". Do these guys really want things to be as they were in 1787?

TMLC claims it "protects and defends Christian rights and values". Then I have to assume they have pro bono attorneys helping "Tookie" Williams get his death sentence commuted to life. Oh, wait, that's right...

Andy in H-burg

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hey, legislature, leave that Constitution alone!

Looking to take a break from calling Specter and Santorum about the Patriot Act? How about calling your state representatives about the latest attack on equality for gay and lesbian families!

Urgent - Ask Your Legislator NOT to Sponsor the Marriage Amendment

We need your help to stop anti-LGBT activists from writing discrimination into the Pennsylvania Constitution. Representative Scott Boyd (R - Lancaster) is drafting an amendment to our state constitution that would deny gay and lesbian families legal recognition. Four other representatives have already signed on to this discriminatory proposal called the Pennsylvania Marriage Protection Amendment.

Yesterday evening, December 6, the Pennsylvania Family Institute sent an email urging their members to contact state legislators to support this amendment.

We need you to contact your state representatives and ask them NOT to co-sponsor or support the Marriage Protection Amendment. Ask them to protect all Pennsylvania families and not harm some by writing discrimination into Pennsylvania's constitution. Pennsylvania law already prevents gay and lesbian couples from marrying, and this amendment is not necessary.

So-called Marriage Protection Amendments affect all families--not just same-sex families. While supporters in other states have said these amendments are only about gay marriage, this is not true. In Ohio, courts have ruled that unmarried people, including unmarried heterosexual couples, may not seek protection from abuse orders. In Michigan, groups are challenging domestic partner benefits for employees. Virginia's recently enacted amendment is so broad that it may interfere with the rights of all Virginians to create wills, medical directives, powers of attorney, child custody and property arrangements, and even joint bank accounts.

You can find your state legislators on the web at Please call them today!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dover defendants' expert witness defends self, criticizes ACLU in the blogosphere

For those who don't have the Dover trial list of experts memorized (and I know there are those of you who do), Steve Fuller is a professor in the Department of Sociology
at the University of Warwick (UK). In his testimony on behalf of the defendants, he claimed that intelligent design was indeed science, and that scientific methods are inherently discriminatory and designed to shut out alternative ideas. (For more on his testimony, see this blog entry.)

Since his testimony, apparently a number of individuals in the scientific community have questioned Fuller's defense of intelligent design. Fuller posted a lengthy response to a post on Penn State University professor Michael Berube's blog.

In addition to a lot of defense of his testimony, Fuller had a strange take on what the trial was really about:

Frankly, I think the public disposition of the Dover case is over-influenced by hatred of Bush and especially fear of the role of fundamentalist Christians in shaping the Bush agenda. (I have in mind here the propaganda campaign being waged on webpages associated with the ACLU: Don't they have more important civil rights violations in the US to worry about?) I'm certainly no fan of Bush, and have never even voted for a Republican, but I don't think that this trial is the right place to "send a message" to Bush. Why not work instead toward getting an electable Democrat - perhaps even one that can relate to the vast numbers of religious folks in the US, as the liberal evangelist Jim Wallis ("God's Politics") suggests? rest of post

I don't even know where to start with these comments, so I think I'll leave it to all of you to start!

Sara in Philly

Do the Right Thing, Senator Specter

A majority of the Senate has concluded that 4 year sunsets do not constitute real PATRIOT Act reform. We agree. With the Bush administration pushing to retain the status quo, we need Senator Specter on board.

According to a December 2nd article in Congress Daily, a majority of the U.S. Senate is "prepared to support a filibuster against reauthorizing 16 expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act unless significant changes are made." Sarah Lai Stirland wrote in the subscription-only publication of National Journal that:
"Just prior to the Thanksgiving recess, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said that he was pushing to change the so-called sunset provisions for the most controversial provisions of the legislation to four years from the current seven -- at which point he would be prepared to sign off on the bill.

But a Democratic aide familiar with the ongoing negotiations said such a move would not be sufficient to head off a filibuster. The aide said the head count showing a majority would support a filibuster was taken just prior to Thanksgiving, and indicated there had been no changes in position since then.

Specifically, the group wanted the conferees to change Section 215 of the bill, which covers FBI access to library patron and business customer records; Section 505, which covers secret subpoenas known as "National Security Letters"; and Section 213, which covers delayed notice search warrants."
At the very least, the restoration of checks and balances must include a link between records sought and a terrorism investigation, a judicial review of gag orders and 7 day notification of a "sneak and peak" search. Is that so much to ask?

The conference committee will reconvene on December 12th. Before they do, we need to let Senator Specter know that 4 year sunsets are not enough to move the bill out of committee. While you're at it, how about calling your representative and Senator Santorum, too?

In the words of the Reading (PA) Eagle: "there's still a chance to do the right thing."

Amy Laura, Philadelphia Office

Friday, December 02, 2005

Ah, the joy of the season

Given our recent discussion about the ACLU's alleged "attempt to get rid of Christmas," I thought I'd share this guest editorial, which appeared in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel. (As a Fort Wayne native, I was particularly pleased to see it!)

Let's get real; the ACLU isn't out to steal anyone's merry Christmas

A guest column by Fran Quigley, Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union

When the angry phone calls and e-mails started arriving at the office, I knew the holiday season was upon us. A typical message shouted that we at the American Civil Liberties Union are "horrible" and "we should be ashamed of ourselves," and then concluded with an incongruous and agitated "Merry Christmas." Entire editorial

An ugly milestone

This country reached an ugly milestone today. The 1000th person to be executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 was put to death this morning in North Carolina. Kurt Rosenberg, director of the Philadelphia-based Witness to Innocence Project, has a moving editorial on the death penalty in this morning's Inquirer, "A system that too often sacrifices the innocent."

On a related note, those in Philadephia might want to check out the film After Innocence this weekend at the Ritz at the Bourse. The documentary tells the horrifying and hearbreaking stories of seven men who spent years in prison (one of whom spent twenty years on Death Row) before being exonerated on DNA evidence. Two of the men in the film are from the Philadelphia area, Vincent Moto and Nick Yarris.

There will be a Q & A panel discussion on both Friday and Saturday following the 7:20 p.m. showing of the film. Friday night features Tonya McClary (moderator), National Criminal Justice Director, American Friends Service Committee; exoneree Vincent Moto, After Innocence producer Marc H. Simon; and David Rudovsky, civil rights attorney and law professor (and ACLU board member).

Saturday night includes two exonerees from the film, Vincent Moto and Dennis Maher; filmmaker Marc H. Simon, and Maddy deLone, the executive director of the Innocence Project. The panel will be moderated by Jeff Garis, former executive director of PA Abolitionists United Against the Death Penalty, who also appears in the film.

It's worth noting that in Pennsylvania, wrongly convicted people who are exonerated and freed from prison currently receive no compensation for their lost years and ruined lives. Legislation has been introduced in Pennsylvania that addresses this issue. House Bill 1473 has been introduced by Representative Mike McGeehan (D-Philadelphia) and it currently is in the House Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 945 has been introduced by Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny County) and it currently is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Film times

Philadelphia Inquirer review of After Innocence

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Can you keep a secret?

I must say, I am very hurt to discover that the ACLU has "a very secret plan ... to diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A." If it wasn't for that helpful Bill O'Reilly, I still wouldn't know. I guess I must have missed the inter-office memo.

For more on Bill O'Reilly's allegations, check out the Media Matters blog.