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What the ACLU of Indiana is tracking

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This story was published in Capitol Watch, a supplement to Indiana Lawyer daily.

The ACLU of Indiana is keeping an eye on bills that have been introduced this session and is anticipating others that could be introduced, including those that will affect due process, First Amendment rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, Second Amendment rights, and rights based on gender identity and sexual orientation, among other issues covered by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

While only four bills were on their watch list as of Wednesday, Executive Director Gilbert Holmes said he anticipated more would be introduced in the coming days and weeks.

Of the four bills the ACLU of Indiana is watching, it supports three and is monitoring one.

The organization supports HB 1003, contracting of public assistance eligibility. This bill would prohibit various state offices from contracting "with another person to administer or process eligibility intake for specified programs." That bill moved out of committee Tuesday.

The organization also supports two Senate bills, including SB 64, regarding the display of political signs. This bill "prohibits a homeowners association from adopting or enforcing certain restrictive covenants or homeowners association rules concerning the display of political signs." This bill's first reading took place Tuesday, and it was referred to the Committee on Elections.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the ACLU of Indiana filed a federal suit on behalf of a Plainfield homeowner who was told to take down a political sign because he was displaying the sign outside of the time limits the town implemented. That and two similar cases the ACLU of Indiana filed in 2008 have since been settled. Plainfield, along with Highland and Lebanon, have since dropped their restrictions on political signage as it relates to private homeowners and time limits, as reported in the Jan. 21-Feb. 3, 2009 edition of Indiana Lawyer.

SB 83, public inspection of provisional ballot materials, regards election material related to provisional ballots. The bill's first reading took place Tuesday, and it was referred to the Committee on Elections.

The ACLU of Indiana has closely been involved with lawsuits involving the need for identification at the polls and other voting rights issues in past legislative sessions.

The organization is also monitoring a Senate bill, SB 71 because it relates to reproductive rights. That bill would make it an act of criminal recklessness if someone caused the termination of a pregnancy in the act of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, or through other reckless behavior. The bill's first reading took place Tuesday and it was referred to the Committee on Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters.

During the session, the ACLU of Indiana will have a list of bills they are tracking on their Web site and information as to why they are interested in particular bills.

A list of 2009 bills the ACLU of Indiana watched, including voting records of state senators and representatives, is available on their Web site.

An in-depth profile of Holmes, the group's new executive director, and the organization will appear in the Jan. 20-Feb.2 edition of Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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