As the federal agency tasked with auditing and evaluation of Congressional programs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) doesn’t like to make mistakes. The “congressional watchdog,” the GAO’s mission is to provide Congress “timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair, and balanced” in order to help Congress fulfill their Constitutional responsibilities. Legislation may be crafted and changed based solely on what the GAO includes in their findings, and the GAO’s legitimacy depends heavily on the infallibility of their reports.
That’s why it’s so shocking that recent work by the ACLU of Rhode Island and other affiliates resulted not only in a public change to a GAO report, but a near-reversal of their original findings.
In the almost 15 years since 9/11, we as Americans are all too familiar with knee-jerk reactions that blossom into policies and laws that seek to “protect” us while trampling on our rights -- all in the name of security. Case in point, the Patriot Act. After all of these years, this Act has done more in the way of eroding our rights in the name of security than one can count – and once again, Congress is looking to make it even worse.
Posted: Jun 28, 2016
|Category: Civil Rights Category: Criminal Justice Category: Free Speech Category: Privacy Category: Students' Rights Category: The "War on Drugs"
When the sun rose and the gavel came down at 6am on Saturday morning, June 18th, the ACLU of Rhode Island was still at the State House, monitoring important civil liberties legislation until the very last moments of the session. We will provide a more detailed review of the legislative session, along with a 2015-2016 voting scorecard, in our next newsletter, and you can check out an expanded list of some of the legislation we monitored last year here. For now, here are some of the highlights - and the lows - of the 2016 General Assembly session.
Posted: Jun 14, 2016
|Category: Discrimination Category: LGBT Rights
Today, CEO’s of major corporations, entertainers, congresspersons and others visible in our political and social institutions are openly gay and may marry the person of their choice, but in June of 1976, when the RI ACLU undertook to represent gays and lesbians who wanted to have a Pride Parade, political and cultural conditions were radically different. In fact, affectionate and intimate contact between persons of the same sex was criminal.
If you weren’t able to attend our October celebration, tune into “Rights of a Free People” throughout December to watch Ms. Smith and RI Coalition for the Homeless executive director Jim Ryczek discuss their work and accept their awards.
Imagine living in an automotive utopia where all cars are as pristine as they were the day they are driven off the lot. Outside, each car has a nearly perfect paint job. Inside, the coffee stains are barely noticeable and the seams aren’t frayed. Even better, everything works as it should. We all know this is far from reality, but when Rhode Island car owners receive their tax bills they are told it is.