Bill of Rights Day: The ACLU-WA Is Fired Up for Freedom

Published: 
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

This year marks the 225th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. This year it is especially important that Americans know and recommit themselves to the principles of the Bill of Rights because we face the inauguration of a President who threatens to undermine many of the rights we cherish. His statements during and after the campaign have shown a disregard for rights that have been the underpinning of our democracy for more than 200 years.

The Bill of Rights guarantees freedoms that apply to all Americans – regardless of who is in the White House. The ACLU has fought to protect the Bill of Rights for nearly a hundred years. We remain fired up to defend freedom.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated December 15 as Bill of Rights Day in 1941. To celebrate our freedoms, the ACLU of Washington on Dec. 15 is distributing wallet cards with the Bill of Rights – in plain language – at Seattle’s Westlake Park from 11:00 am-3:00 pm.  The first 100 visitors to our table there will receive free ACLU-WA “Fired Up For Freedom” T-shirts. We’ll also have “No One Trumps the Constitution” bumper stickers and buttons, know your rights information, and sign-ups for our E-Activist Network.

Cupcake Royale is helping celebrate Bill of Rights Day by offering free cupcakes to the first 20 people to join the ACLU at each of its six locations around Seattle. Cupcake Royale will donate a portion of its Thursday’s proceeds to the ACLU-WA. 

Our December 15 actions are part the ACLU-WA’s Fired Up For Freedom campaign that responds to the election of Donald Trump. As a presidential candidate, he promised to take actions once in office that in many cases would be unlawful or unconstitutional. These included promises to amass a deportation force to conduct mass removals of undocumented immigrants; ban the entry of Muslims to our country and aggressively surveil them; punish women who choose to have abortions; reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture; and erode protections for freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

The ACLU has made clear that if President Trump moves to implement any of these proposals, we will see him in court.

In Washington state, the ACLU is working on a broad range of issues, including major efforts to end mass incarceration, ensure police accountability, curb the school-to prison pipeline, safeguard voting rights, oppose the use of religion to discriminate, and preserve LGBT rights.  In addition, in light of the 2016 elections, we are increasingly vigilant to take action in several areas:

Free Speech & Protest

  • Oppose any efforts to crack down on peaceful protest and hold police accountable if they violate the rights to free speech and assembly.
  • Resist a proposed a new state law that treats civil disobedience as “economic terrorism.”
  • Provide workshops on Free Speech & Protest Rights to groups across the state.

Immigrant Rights

  • Urge cities to follow lead of Bellevue, Olympia, and Seattle, where local officials are protecting their communities, not doing the bidding of the federal immigration police.

Student Harassment and Bullying

  • Ensure that public school officials respond swiftly and forcefully to any incident of harassment or bullying of Muslim, immigrant, female, or students of color.

Torture

  • Hold accountable the Spokane psychologists who designed torture programs for the government.

Privacy

  • Make sure that people are not subjected to government surveillance based on their political or religious views.
  • Ensure that government acquisitions of new surveillance technology occur only with public debate and safeguards for privacy rights.

Abortion Rights

  • Oppose bills in the state legislature that would undermine abortion rights.
  • Ensure that public health districts provide abortions in their local community, as the WA Reproductive Privacy Act requires.

The Bill of Rights lays out important limits to government power, protecting the rights to free speech and assembly, freedom of religion, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to a fair trial, and more.  Let’s keep in mind that it was written by James Madison after several states called for greater protection for individual liberties to be included in the Constitution. Its guarantees of freedom are as important today as ever.