The ACLU – with your support – has faced a challenging times in the past and we will stand together to resist this dangerous encroachment of basic rights.
Dobbs Threatens Our Democracy
The Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturned Roe and stripped away federal constitutional protection for the right to an abortion. The Court’s churlishly narrow reading of the Constitution also threatens the right to use contraception, pre-natal testing, and assisted reproduction such as in vitro fertilization, same sex marriage and intimacy, and a host of other personal decisions. The Court’s radical decision threatens our democracy in ways not seen since before the Civil War.
Abortion remains legal in Illinois, where state law protects the full scope of reproductive healthcare and decision-making. As so-called “originalism” became the litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, the ACLU of Illinois prepared for the dystopian Dobbs decision. After years of successfully securing federal court injunctions barring enforcement of restrictive Illinois abortion laws, we pivoted and went on the offensive. ACLU lawyers drafted protective state legislation, including the Reproductive Health Act, a repeal of the state trigger law, an expansion of Medicaid funding, and a repeal of compelled parental notice of abortion. Our Advocacy team then led broad coalitions to pass this legislation, affirmatively protecting reproductive freedom.
Notwithstanding these state law protections, the Dobbs decision – and the Court’s earlier decision in Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson, letting stand SB 8, the anti-abortion Texas vigilante law – will reverberate here in Illinois. We are seeing a rush by surrounding states to activate trigger laws that criminalize nearly all abortions and to enact Texas style laws that create 21st century “Inquisitors” who are empowered to seek civil penalties against anyone who helps a woman access abortion care. These laws implicate significant legal issues – and risk – for Illinois medical providers, abortion funds that subsidize care for low-income people, and employers, friends and family members who help women from state hostile to abortion rights seek care here in Illinois.
Growing efforts by hostile states to enforce their abortion bans by threatening out of state doctors and others with criminal prosecution and civil penalties reveal the legal landmines set by the Supreme Court. Those landmines threaten our entire post-civil war democracy.
By eliminating federal constitutional protection for the right to abortion (and with Justice Thomas urging the court to remove constitutional protection for contraception and same sex marriage), the Court catapults us backwards to ante-bellum jurisprudence. The Court also creates doubt about a federal constitutional standard for fundamental rights that states MUST respect – a hallmark of jurisprudence for more than a century, as the Court interpreted the 14th Amendment to make states abide by federal constitutional protections. Your right to decide whether to have children, who to marry, who to love, should not depend on whether you live in Illinois or Missouri, New York or Ohio, New Mexico or Texas.
Despite the Court’s radical attack on the scope of the 14th Amendment and its similarly regressive attack on the 15th Amendment and its protection of voting rights, we cannot accept the Court’s regression as the jurisprudential status quo for important rights. We must continue to advocate to protect reproductive freedom, marriage, and the rights of all people to make fundamental decisions about their own bodies, their own medical care, and the most intimate decisions about life. We must seize on the Court’s claim that it is returning the “authority to regulate abortion . . . to the people and their elected representatives.”
As “the people,” we have an increasingly important role to play in protecting fundamental rights. We must:
- Vote in state legislative, governor, and attorney general elections. Pro-choice state legislators enacted the Reproductive Health Act, the expansion of Medicaid funding, and other state laws that protect the right to abortion and contraception. Pro-choice governors signed these bills into law.
- Inform yourself and vote in state judicial races. Two Illinois Supreme Court seats are up for election in 2022 – it is even more important, post-Dobbs that the Illinois Supreme Court continue to recognize that the Illinois Constitution protects the right to abortion.
- Thank your elected representatives, including members of the Illinois Congressional delegation, who recently voted on bills that would provide federal statutory protection for abortion, for contraception, and for same sex marriage. Two members of Congress, Adam Kinzinger and Rodney Davis, broke with party leaders in voting to protect marriage.
- Urge family members, friends, and acquaintances to inform themselves and to vote to support pro-choice candidates – this is another instance where there are more of us than there are of them. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that women, not the state or federal government, should decide whether to have an abortion.
- Speak up in letters to the editor, in community newsletters, in professional associations, at rallies and all other forums. We all have personal experience making health care decisions – about resolving medical problems complicating our pregnancies, about counseling a loved one on whether to decline extraordinary medical care, about whether to have an abortion, whether to have an IUD or go on birth control pills, or whether to attempt another effort at assisted reproduction or forego your desire to have a child. We all have personal experiences making personal decisions – about who to date, who to love, whether to marry, who to marry, whether to divorce. To paraphrase, for evil to prevail, it is necessary for good people to do nothing. Make no mistake, it is a human rights violation – it is evil – to deprive people of the fundamental right to make these personal decisions that have daily and on-going impact on every other aspect of their lives. We must speak out publicly and not acquiesce in the Supreme Court’s efforts to eviscerate individual rights.
- Continue to fund advocacy. Without continued legal, legislative, and communications advocacy, women coming from hostile states to Illinois, risk foreclosure of this important legal right. We must continue to advocate in state courts to protect fundamental rights under state constitutions and state laws. We must not withdraw from federal courts, despite Dobbs. We must continue to put before the courts the real-life implications of withdrawing federal protection from our right to make medical decisions. Make no mistake, women denied abortion care will suffer serious medical complications; and some will die. We must confront the Court with its squandered jurisprudential legitimacy and its lack of humanity.
- Continue to fund access. Without continued funding of access, the right to abortion will be in name only for too many people.
The Supreme Court’s reckless decision has created a new environment for the defense and advancement of fundamental rights. The ACLU – with your support – has faced a challenging times in the past and we will stand together to resist this dangerous encroachment of basic rights.
Update on the Fight for Rights and Liberties
Abortion Rights and Access Post-Dobbs
Abortion remains legal and available in Illinois. The Supreme Court’s reckless decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is undeniably a shock, but not surprising. While it feels dark, we are not hopeless. Below are a few actions you can take to join the ACLU and our partners in this fight:
- Stay Informed: You can learn more about the right to abortion access in Illinois here and find resources and information to access abortion care in this state here, or watch a recording of our Virtual Town Hall: Abortion Rights and Access Post Dobbs here.
- Support the ACLU and Our Partners: If you are able, support the ACLU for the fight ahead. Please also support abortion funds.
- Vote Your Values: The Illinois mid-term election is on November 8. It is important to research all candidates from state representatives, to judges – including state Supreme Court justices – local officials, and district attorneys.
It is worth repeating – you have the fundamental right to make decisions about your reproductive healthcare in Illinois – including whether to have an abortion. Nevertheless, we cannot take anything for granted. Abortion is only safe as long as we fight to protect and maintain it. The autonomy, freedom, and lives of millions of people hang in the balance. We will never give up hope and urge you to stay in the fight with us. Only by working together will we succeed in the tremendous fight before us.
2021 Traffic Stop Data
Newly-released data on traffic stops in Illinois continue to show that people of color are significantly more likely to be stopped for traffic violations than white drivers. In 2021, Black drivers where approximately 1.7 times more likely to be stopped by police than white drivers. While Latine drivers did not see a statewide disparity, they are more likely to be stopped in many jurisdictions.
Racial inequities in traffic stops have persisted statewide and in many jurisdictions for years. Whether it is changing lanes without signaling or having expired tags, most drivers regularly violate traffic laws, but the racial disparities in police stops, which have occurred every year this data has been collected, must end. They lead to more experience with invasive questioning, searches, humiliation, and all too often, tragic violence at the hands of police. We need data-driven changes to policies and work with local communities to find solutions.
New Policing Lawsuit
We are in the midst of representing Julie Campos in her lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department after a Chicago police officer’s obscene verbal tirade escalated into the officer’s physical assault of Julie and her false arrest. While we are disappointed about CPD’s continued pattern of harmful practices, we hope that this case will bring about accountability for clear police misconduct and will lead to the City taking abusive officers off the streets. This case, filed in partnership with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, exemplifies the City’s and CPD’s pattern of systemic failure to take abusive officers off the streets, allowing traumatic experiences such as the one that resulted in Ms. Campos’ arrest to occur.
Last month a violent extremist vandalized UpRising Bakery in Lake in the Hills, a suburb of Chicago, because the bakery planned to host a drag brunch. Local officials initially supported the bakery, but later attempted to force the owner to cancel all future events, including the rescheduled drag brunch. The ACLU of Illinois joined this fight, agreeing to represent the bakery owner, and calling on the Village to reverse its stance. The Village and the bakery have now reached an agreement allowing these events – including the rescheduled drag show – to move forward as planned.
Federal Bureau of Prisons Agrees to Provide First-Ever Gender-Affirming Surgery
Cristina Nichole Iglesias, will become the first person to receive gender-affirming surgery while in federal custody under a landmark settlement agreement by a federal court in Illinois. The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has delayed and denied Cristina this medically necessary care for years. Under this settlement agreement, BOP will provide Cristina with the gender-affirming surgery she needs. As a result of this lawsuit, the BOP has also committed to setting target timelines for considering requests for gender-affirming treatment for all trans people in federal custody.
The fact is: people who are incarcerated have a right to health care. Period. And that includes gender-affirming care. Cristina’s case and this settlement are a monumental move forward in our continued fight to protect this basic human right for all people currently trapped in our prison systems – and for the larger fight to secure trans equality across the country.
Clearview AI Case Settlement
The ACLU recently settled a lawsuit with Clearview AI for violating Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Clearview AI claims to have captured more than ten billion face prints from online photos of people across the globe. The central provision of the settlement restricts the company from selling access to its face print database to most businesses and private entities, not just in Illinois, but also across the U.S.
BIPA is intended to curb exactly the kind of broad-based surveillance that Clearview’s system allows. The law requires companies to inform consumers and get their written consent before collecting any biometric information, such as face prints. Unlike a password or credit card number, your biometric information can never change, so they can pose greater risks to your security, privacy, and safety than the capture of other identifiers.
NEWS FROM OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
The ACLU of Illinois’ Chapters are located across the state in Springfield, Peoria, Central Illinois, and Champaign County and are engaged in important, on-the-ground advocacy work in their communities. There are also Student Chapters at a number of law schools, high schools, and universities.
Automatic License Plate Readers
Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) are a powerful surveillance tool increasingly being deployed across Illinois’ communities and expressways. These camera systems are aggressively marketed as a means of reducing violent crime, but are collecting data on every car that drives past. Members of our community concerned with the civil liberty implications of ALPRs, including the Champaign County Chapter of the ACLU-IL, asked the City of Urbana to make the decision-making process for approving an ALPR proposal transparent, and in response, the city held two town hall meetings. Our Central Illinois Chapter, Springfield Chapter and Peoria Chapter also weighed in on ALPR proposals in their community.
Pretrial Fairness Act Events and Actions
The Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA) is key component of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ omnibus “SAFE-T Act,” a broad package of policing and criminal justice reforms signed into law in 2021, and that will go into effect in 2023. The PFA fundamentally changes the way Illinois courts determine whether someone accused of a crime will be detained in jail while awaiting trial and eliminates the role of money bond in Illinois, substantially reducing the number of people incarcerated pretrial in our state. Show your support for the Pretrial Fairness Act against attempts to undermine it’s implementation:
- Springfield Chapter In-Person Event: Wednesday, October 12 at 5:30pm at the Springfield Public Library.
- Multi-Chapter Virtual Event: Tuesday, October 25.
- Message your State Senators and Representatives: Oppose Efforts to Roll Back the End of Cash Bail
Please stay tuned for more information about both of these events and the link to register!
Ask the Expert
The following question was answered by Ally Bain (she/her), Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Illinois.
Disability Pride Month was last month and the ACLU of Illinois has been committed to this work for decades. Can you share why the fight for disability rights is so important to the broader movement to protect and expand liberties and rights for all?
Disability Pride Month occurs every July—the same month that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. Despite the ADA’s passage 32 years ago, many literal and figurative obstacles remain for individuals with disabilities.
Someone who hears or reads the word “disability” often attaches a negative connotation to the word or any related term. Yet, the CDC reports that 1 in 4 adults in the United States has a disability. Disabilities, and the policies protecting the rights of those with disabilities, impact all of us—if not ourselves, then our family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and classmates.
The ACLU has long recognized that disability rights are civil rights. Putting in place policies that let people live and control their own lives is essential to all parts of the fight for civil liberties. The ask is simple—everyone should have access and opportunity to participate fully in society, regardless of disability status.
Disability also often overlaps or intersects with other categories or areas of the law. In Illinois, the ACLU has been working to put in place mental health-related programming for youth in substitute care living arrangements or in jails or prisons. Additionally, the ACLU has worked for more than 15 years to help ensure that people with disabilities have the option of living in their own homes in the community, rather than in large institutions. The ACLU and our partners have helped more than 16,000 people move from these large institutions to smaller settings, including into apartment units.
Do you have a question about civil rights or liberties that you would like our staff to answer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your question and we may include the answer in the next Impact Report!
Take Action & Join Us
Please join us for the We the People engagement series on democracy! With diminished faith in our institutions, a movement to undermine the integrity of our electoral processes embodied in the January 6 insurrection, efforts to suppress free speech, a rise in voter suppression, and increasing polarization within our communities, there is a generalized notion and fear among many that we are in the midst of a crisis in American Democracy. We encourage you to join us for this engagement series to explore the state of democracy, learn more our interrelated rights and liberties, and take action to advance change in our society.
Alongside this series, Weinberg/Newton Gallery is presenting their exhibition, All That Glows in the Dark of Democracy, both in-person and online from July 29 – October 1 which will feature artworks that present a range of perspective on democracy as a concept both in theory and in practice.
Upcoming Events in Partnership with Weinberg/Newton Gallery:
All that Glows: A Night of Storytelling on Democracy on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 | Hybrid Event | 6PM CT
In partnership with 2nd Story, the event will feature first-person stories that examine our understanding of democratic values, how we put democracy into practice, and what we can do to activate democracy. Stay tuned for more information! Learn more and RSVP here.
We the People: A Conversation on Democracy on Thursday, September 29, 2022| Virtual Event | 6PM CT
Hear directly from our Executive Director Colleen Connell and other special guests on the state of our democracy. Together, we will discuss the important moment we are in right now, our interrelated rights and liberties, and how you can take action. Learn more and RSVP here.
- Message your State Senators: Remove the Felony Bar for Individuals Seeking a Name Change in Illinois
- Message your State Senators: Reduce Barriers to Recovery
- Message your State Senators: Affirm LGBTQ Youth in DCFS Care
- Message your U.S. Senators: End Racist Sentencing Disparities Now
- Message your U.S. Senators and Representative: Do Not Reinstate Title 42
- Take the Pledge: Commit to Being a Defender of Abortion Rights
- Latest Episodes of ACLU At Liberty Podcast:
- The Trans Script Series
- Paris’ Story (0:31)
- Mason’s Story (0:31)
- Queen’s Story (0:31)
- The Trans Script Series
ACLU of Illinois Community Spotlight
Learn more about three members of the ACLU of Illinois Community who are advancing justice and fighting for fundamental freedoms:
Nida Shakir Ghaffar (she/her)
Nida Shakir Ghaffar is the President of the Next Generation Society of the ACLU and has served on the board since 2018.
Why did you join the Next Generation Society?
I believe in actively participating in what I am passionate about and believe that the ACLU truly empowers people to get involved. Whether it’s protesting for a cause I feel strongly deserves a voice or calling my state or federal representative, the ACLU gives me the opportunity to engage with other active members of the community to share a common goal.
What current work of the Society are you most excited about?
I am most excited about the recent achievements of the Next Generation Board. This year is the last year of the freedom fund campaign, where the board is on track to meet its fundraising goal of $1 million dollars over the course of five years to help support the work of the ACLU. The funds raised through this campaign helped support fully funding a staff attorney position at the ACLU – the Next Generation Staff Attorney.
What is giving you hope right now when you think about the future of this work to protect and expand civil rights and liberties?
I became a first time Ammi (mom in urdu) this past March which is giving me a lot of hope about the future of the ACLU’s work. Fighting for our civil rights and liberties has never been more important for me and I want to make sure that the world this next generation grows up in is one with more rights and more protections than we have today.
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?
Currently I am reading Radical Candor by Kim Scott which I initially picked up to assist me in furthering my professional goals but has proven useful in all aspects of my life. I am also an avid listener of The Daily, How I Built This with Guy Raz, and my “guilty pleasure” Welcome to the OC, B*tches! Because who doesn’t need a throwback every now and then.
David Weinberg (his/him)
David Weinberg was an executive and owner of the privately-owned company, Fel-Pro, Inc. for more than 35 years. Upon its sale David became further involved in the blossoming charter school movement in Illinois. He was one of the early Board members of the Noble Network of Charter Schools and still serves on that Board. He became a co-founder of The Illinois Network of Charter Schools and is still the Board Chairman.
David has sat on the Board of The Museum of Contemporary Photography for over 10 years and is a professional photographer exhibiting in art centers and galleries across the country. He is the owner and Executive Director of Weinberg/Newton Gallery that has partnered with the ACLU on numerous occasions. David has become quite adept at ordering carryout dinners.
Jerry Newton (she/her)
Jerry Newton is the former chair of the Personal PAC board, an attorney, wife, mother, grandmother and advocate for human and civil rights, especially those of women. As an attorney, she has her own practice and specializes in employment-related issues, including discrimination. Previously, she worked for the Hartmarx Corporation and the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. She has also worked as a Housing Director with the Section 8 Program and was a French teacher.
As a wife, she avoids the kitchen whenever possible. As a mother, ask her children (well, maybe not!) and as a grandmother … what can you say when you have perfect grandchildren! As an advocate, she is active in politics, working to elect pro-choice candidates. She is committed to the work of the Chicago Foundation for Women, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Watch, the Shriver Center, Refugee One and, of course, the ACLU. She also served on the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board and the Chicago Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee.
What is the mission of Weinberg/Newton Gallery?
Weinberg/Newton Gallery is a non-commercial gallery with a mission to collaborate with nonprofit organizations and artists to engage and educate the public on social justice issues facing our communities. Connecting artists and social justice organizations, we work to drive change and cultivate a culture of consciousness.
What are you looking forward to the most about All That Glows in the Dark of Democracy, the exhibition in partnership with the ACLU?
Because of the challenges facing Democracy, I look forward to hearing about the different ways in which people define Democracy, value it, and intend to defend it. Various artworks and programs beckon visitors to express their feelings about this important institution.
Given all of the challenges facing our country right now, what role can art play in social progress?
Art is a universal language that can add nuance and color to help process complicated subject matter. Art has the dual abilities to make a subject both meaningful and attractive. Because today’s risks to Democracy are so overwhelming, pictures, comedy, art exhibits, and more help to inform beyond statistics and data.
What is giving you hope right now when you think about the future of this work to protect and expand civil rights and liberties?
There is a hard core of resistance (including the ACLU) that will do everything possible to defend our Democratic values. I have seen many people who normally do not “get involved in politics” step up and help to inform others of the potential threats. Getting folks out to vote, when voting has become more difficult, is having a great impact.
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?
The news media is my go-to source for news.
Latinos Progresando delivers high-quality information and resources for people to build secure, healthy and productive lives. Founded in 1998, with a single volunteer and $200 in the bank, Latinos Progresando has emerged as an organizational leader, offering responsive, community-based solutions with a far-reaching impact.
What They Do:
- Immigration Legal Services
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Project
- Community Education & Outreach
- Sector Building
- Marshall Square Resource Network
- Education + Wellness Programming
- Small Business Services
- Miller Perez Family Scholarship Fund
Leadership & Culture:
- Excellerator Fund
- MEX Talks
- Teatro Americano
We encourage you to learn more about and support Latinos Progresando:
- Learn more about MEX talks, a dynamic annual, one-day showcase featuring Mexican and Mexican American speakers, MEX talks celebrates the history, contributions and rich diversity of the Mexican culture in the United States. This year’s MEX talks will take place on September 22.
- Donate to Latinos Progresando.
- Watch their impact video “A Second Home.”
- Read an op-ed published in Crains on their Excellerator Fun.
2nd Story, one of Chicago’s oldest storytelling organizations, exists to fulfill its vision of living in a world driven by empathy. Founded in 1999 with the goal of “fostering social dialogue” between artist and audience, 2nd Story is real stories by real people for real change, and builds community through conversation and storytelling. After 23 years, we continue to create spaces where people can craft and share their stories to a live audience.
Each of our programming streams offer a true and natural extension of our Mission, Vision, and Values. Within each show we produce, class we teach, and workshop we facilitate is a confidence that stories can build a bolder, brighter, and kinder world.
2nd Story’s 24th Season is a brave exploration of the gooey, messy, tender underbelly of what it means to be human. Beneath the Surface will take us into a deep dive of human vulnerability, from those giant moments that mark our personal history and through those smaller points in between. Join us for this celebration of the human experience and spirit. We launch Season 24 on Sunday, September 11, which also starts a year-long residency at the Haymarket Pub & Brewery in Chicago's West Loop. Learn more about 2nd Story here.
We are thrilled to partner with 2nd Story on an upcoming event – We the People: A Night of Storytelling on Democracy learn more and RSVP today!