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When Savana Redding, an eighth grade honor student at Safford Middle School, was pulled from class on October 8, 2003, she had no idea that would end up being the most humiliating day of her life. But that’s exactly what happened when the school vice principal, based on a classmate’s uncorroborated accusation, forced Savana to undress as part of a search for ibuprofen pills. The strip search failed to uncover any ibuprofen pills. But, Savana was so upset by the incident she decided to challenge the strip search to ensure that school officials wouldn’t arbitrarily invade the bodily integrity of future students. The ACLU submitted a brief on Savana’s behalf, and in July the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the nude search was an invasion of her constitutional rights.
Tom Micnhimer, 48, turned to the ACLU after a judge entered a divorce decree in his child-custody case that conditioned visits of his children on his “not having Internet access” at home. There was no rational explanation for the Internet ban. Tom, who was never accused of any child abuse, felt he was being targeted because of his sexual orientation. He’s been in a long-term, committed relationship with his partner, PJ, for nearly five years. In February, the ACLU of Arizona filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief that focused on the First Amendment implications of the Internet ban, arguing it was unnecessarily broad given the availability of filtering software to block objectionable material. Just three months later, the trial judge agreed with our position and amended the divorce decree to allow full access to the Internet by Tom, who has four children ranging in ages from 7 to 15. This is the first time in three years Tom has had Internet access at home.
Hector H. Lopez
For many years Hector H. Lopez has called the City of Cave Creek home. He used to work as a day laborer, gathering on public sidewalks every morning just after dawn to find work to help him buy food and pay rent. That was before the city passed an ordinance directed at immigrants and prohibiting all persons from peaceably expressing their availability for work while on a public sidewalk. In March, the ACLU went to court, arguing the ordinance unfairly punished day laborers and was a contentbased restriction on their right to free speech. Just five months later, a federal judge ordered the city to stop enforcing the law. Today, Hector works part-time at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Cave Creek.
Ally Kovacs remembers vividly the night when she was forced to stay in the men’s section of Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), a homeless shelter in downtown Phoenix. She and another transgender woman were brutally attacked after having been removed from the women’s side and placed with a group of men in the shelter’s overnight dormitory. After learning about Ally’s horrific experience, the ACLU wrote a letter to CASS officials demanding that they take proactive steps to protect transgender individuals from being discriminated against when seeking emergency shelter services. As a result of the ACLU’s efforts, CASS implemented a new policy in November allowing transgender individuals to be housed based on self-reported gender identity and not on the basis of biological gender, unless requested by the individual. In addition, transgender clients will be provided separate private restroom facilities while residing in the shelter.
Sinan Fazlovic was demoted while working for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) for refusing to shave off his beard. A devout Muslim, Sinan is forbidden by the tenets of his religion to shave his face. He was hired to work as a detention officer while wearing the beard, so he was quite shocked to learn that MCSO was denying him the chance to work in the jail setting unless he shaved his facial fair. But that’s exactly what happened. When Sinan explained he’d be unable to do so because he was a practicing Muslim, MCSO re-assigned him and then slashed his pay 45% – a hardship that he endured for 37 months, despite having to support his wife and three children, ages 5, 18 months and 3 months. Originally from Bosnia, Sinan has been living in Phoenix for nine years. He sought help from the ACLU of Arizona, which filed a formal complaint alleging religious discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Velia Meraz and Manual Nieto
Velia Meraz and her brother, Manuel Nieto Jr., never thought they’d be swept up in immigration sweeps; they’re American citizens, after all. But, when they were detained by Maricopa County Sheriff’s officers back in March, they knew that Sheriff Arpaio had gone too far in his attempt to enforce federal immigration laws. Velia and Manuel were the innocent victims of Sheriff Arpaio’s so-called “crime suppression sweeps.” They’re among a group of individuals who are suing the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for deliberately using race and skin color as a pretext for stopping Latinos to inquire about their immigration status. The ACLU is part of the legal team representing the racial profiling victims who are not seeking money but rather a court-ordered end to these abusive and discriminatory stops.
It’s been ove 20 years since Michele Convie’s drug conviction. Since then, she’s become a mother, grandmother, and proud homeowner. Although she’s involved in public policy advocacy as a volunteer with the Women’s Re-entry Network in Tucson, she’s completely shut out of the political process because of a felon voting ban that disenfranchises more than 176,000 formerly incarcerated individuals, like her, who live and work in communities throughout Arizona. In May, the ACLU of Arizona and the National ACLU Voting Rights Project filed lawsuit seeking to restore the voting rights of former felons like Michele who have served their prison terms but are denied the right to vote because they owe money to the state or because they committed certain types of crimes. She is one of five ACLU plaintiffs challenging the unjust laws prohibiting former felons from exercising their right to vote.
After spending nearly one year in a jail ward despite never having committed any crime, tuberculosis (TB) patient Robert Daniels was finally transferred on July 19th to the National Jewish Hospital in Denver, the leading US center for TB treatment. The transfer came just seven weeks after the ACLU of Arizona filed a federal lawsuit against Maricopa County public health officials for failing to place him in humane quarantine facilities. In our lawsuit, we charged that treating a severely ill patient like a criminal is inhumane and unconstitutional. In addition, we argued that the county failed to implement procedures on how to humanely quarantine sick patients in an effort to cut costs. Daniels is now recuperating in Russia with his wife and son.
Sylvia Haydee Uribe-Reyna
In total disregard for family values and the U.S. Constitution, the federal government deported Sylvia Haydee Uribe-Reyna, a Glendale mother of three U.S.-born children who has resided in the U.S. for 22 continuous years. In a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Arizona and ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, we argued that she is eligible to stay in the U.S because of her long residency and because she is married to a legal permanent resident. A federal district court agreed with the ACLU and halted her deportation, but without notifying Uribe or her ACLU lawyers, ICE officials deported her in the middle of the night, telling her that she “could call [her] attorney from Mexico.” This tragic case demonstrates how the federal government’s expedited removal proceedings result in terrible mistakes and deprive individuals of rights granted by our immigration laws and our Constitution.
Just one month after the Arizona Legislature passed a law criminalizing the sale of anti-war t-shirts, police officers paid a visit to Dan Frazier’s home in Flagstaff, notifying him that they were preparing a report for the Flagstaff City Attorney’s Office that could result in criminal charges under the statute. The ACLU stepped into action and filed a lawsuit before an arrest, arguing the law was an unconstitutional attempt to take away Frazier’s First Amendment rights. The 41-year-old activist has been selling anti-war t-shirts with the phrase: "Bush Lied … They Died” for nearly two years, donating proceeds from the t-shirt sales to an organization that benefits families of fallen soldiers. A judge recently halted the enforcement of the law, saying t-shirts were political in nature and deserving of constitutional protections.
The Cain Family
Virgel Cain opposes school vouchers and his 18-year-old adopted daughter, Nisha Cain, is the reason why. She graduated from Cactus Shadows High School, which helped her overcome attention-deficit hyperactivity and bipolar disorders. And, like most parents with children enrolled in public schools in Arizona, he fears vouchers will drain resources from quality public school programs for students with disabilities like his daughter's. The ACLU of Arizona joined Cain, and other parents and educators in challenging two voucher bills that force taxpayers to pay up to $5 million to subsidize religious instruction.