Rick Steves: Travel as a Political Act - Ending Marijuana Prohibition in Oregon

Travel guru Rick Steves launches Oregon Tour, October 7 - 12

Rick StevesRick Steves is touring Oregon in support of Vote Yes on 91, the ballot measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for adults over 21. You probably know him best from his radio and television shows on OPB. He also produces a syndicated column and revises more than 50 guidebooks a year from his hometown of Edmonds, WA.

In “Travel as a Political Act: Ending marijuana prohibition in Oregon,” Steves will share how travel has shown him how different societies tackle the same problems. Steves and the ACLU of Washington co-sponsored Washington’s successful 2012 ballot measure to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana. “One thing I’ve learned in 30 years of travel is that treating marijuana as a crime does not work,” he said. “A better approach is to regulate it, legalize it and tax it. I’m an advocate for better policy, and that’s what Oregon will get once Measure 91 passes.”

The ACLU of Oregon is an endorser of YES on 91 and is cohosting the Rick Steves tour. As a part of the tour, Steves will be the special guest at our annual membership meeting in Eugene on October 9.

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Lolita and the Freedom to Read

In celebration of Banned Books Week (September 21 - 27, 2014), we have a guest blog post by Barbara Gordon-Lickey, member of the ACLU of Oregon Education Committee.

I was in high school when I first learned that maintaining the freedom to read requires vigilance. I wanted to read Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov. Although Lolita received much critical acclaim, it was controversial, to put it mildly, because it dealt with a sexual relationship between an adult man and a 12 year old girl. After its initial publication in France in 1955, Lolita was banned for several years in France and Great Britain, as well as several other countries. Surprisingly, it was published in the United States in 1958 without major incident, although some local libraries refused to buy it. Lolita was on the New York Times best seller list for two years and sold over 50 million copies, possibly because of its controversial subject matter. It was not an obscure piece of erotic literature.

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Constitution Day: ACLU to Award $25,000 to Schools Nationwide

By Justin M. Loveland, Outreach Intern

In 2004, Congress created Constitution Day – a day on which we can all celebrate our fundamental rights and responsibilities set forth by the U.S. Constitution. The same piece of legislation requires that all schools receiving federal funds teach something about the U.S. Constitution on September 17.

The law was spearheaded by Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who was worried – and perhaps rightly so – that not enough Americans could list the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, recall the number of senators there are, explain the three branches of government, or decide whether the Constitution establishes the United States as a Christian nation. For the record, it does not.

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National Organization for Marriage Appeal for Intervention Dismissed!

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses the National Organization for Marriage’s ("NOM") appeal for intervention in Geiger vs. Kitzhaber and Rummell vs. Kitzhaber

August 27, 2014 - On May 19, Judge Michael McShane struck down Oregon’s laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage. NOM had sought to intervene in that case, which Judge McShane denied. NOM then tried to appeal that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Today’s decision dismissing NOM’s appeal confirms that NOM has no standing to participate in the case.

“In the past year there have been more than 30 court rulings overturning state bans on marriage between same-sex couples,” said David Fidanque, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon. “The legal consensus is clear that these bans are unconstitutional. Marriage is a fundamental freedom, and freedom means freedom for everyone.”

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There Is No 5-Second Rule for the First Amendment, Ferguson

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project

This piece originally ran at POLITICO.

Tear gas, rubber bullets, and assault weapons; free speech zones, gags, and press pens: This is the arsenal of the police state. Some of these tactics are physical. The other ones - all the more pernicious for their quiet coercion - impose a veil of silence over the actions of law enforcement. And each of these weapons has been unleashed on the people of Ferguson, Missouri, since the killing of Michael Brown.

In the first few nights of protest, Ferguson and St. Louis County police responded with a truly inconceivable show of force. Officers suited up in DHS-funded military hand-me-downs, outfitted with goggles, machine guns, sniper rifles, riot gear and gas masks. Distressing warzone-like images flickered into the public consciousness: photos of armed police cohorts pointing loaded automatic weapons at citizens with their hands in the air, women and children's faces streaming with tear gas and milk and white officers targeting black protesters like it's Selma circa 1964.

The message was clear: The public is the enemy.

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Marijuana Legalization Initiative: A Common Sense Path Forward for Oregon

By Executive Director David Fidanque

On Tuesday, two retired prosecutors argued that Oregon voters should reject the initiative designed to reform our failed approach to marijuana.

While the prosecutors acknowledge it is just a matter of time before marijuana use by adults 21 and older will be legalized, regulated and taxed in Oregon, they demand that it be done only on their terms.

Let’s step back for a minute. In the last decade, Oregon police have arrested or cited more than 95,000 people for marijuana offenses, according to the Oregon State Police. That’s like arresting or citing every single person who lives in Hillsboro. Last year, a person was arrested or cited for a marijuana offense every 41 minutes in Oregon.

It’s more than a waste of money; it’s a distraction. Police ought to focus on keeping our roads safe and stopping violent criminals, not clogging our courts and jails with people who buy pot. And people who buy marijuana ought to be taxed for it. Right now marijuana sales are feeding black market cartels that fuel violent crime.

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