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Show Your Pride on June 27!

For decades, the ACLU of Washington has fought for equal treatment for all people in America under the law, regardless of sexual orientation and gender expression. Last year, the ACLU worked tirelessly to pass R-71, a statewide referendum to keep a domestic partnership law that provides the same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples.  Our current work includes advocating for the rights of LGBT youth in schools and challenging unequal treatment of lesbian and gay military personnel. This summer, join us and thousands of others at the Seattle’s Pride Fest 2010, One Community, All Shades of Beautiful. March with the ACLU contingent in the parade and show your shades of pride, equality, and justice. Sunday, June 27, 11:00 am - 7:00 pmDowntown Seattle10:00 am - ACLU-WA parade contingent meets at 4th Ave and Marion St (map)11:00 am - Parade begins from the corner of 4th Ave and Union St; Pride Fest begins at Seattle Center (map) Register to march with the ACLU-WA! Read More »

Automated License Plate Recognition: The Newest Threat to Your Privacy When You Travel

Law enforcement agencies around the country and across the state have a powerful new tool to effortlessly identify and track you while you drive, and it is a real threat to your privacy. In other words, the cops want to data-mine your driving habits. Read More »

Unneeded Panhandling Proposal Put to Rest

Yesterday, we got word that Seattle’s aggressive panhandling ordinance has officially died—the city council was unable to overturn Mayor McGinn’s veto. The action came after pressure from the ACLU of Washington, Real Change News, and various other community organizations. The groups opposed the proposed law as an unnecessary measure – Seattle already has a law against “aggressive panhandling” – that scapegoated homeless people rather than addressing real problems of public.  If enforced, the measure likely would lead to more poor people being thrown into the criminal justice system after they are unable to pay fines. Read More »

Students in Washington Need Your Voice

All kids deserve to learn in an environment free of discrimination, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction needs your help to make that happen. With the help of ACLU of Washington supporters, the legislature recently passed HB 3026, a law prohibiting discrimination in Washington schools. Now the Superintendent is asking for input on how to implement this new law. Tell Randy Dorn that we need clear and effective procedures to protect all our students. Read More »


As reported by the Peninsula Gateway, recently “drug-sniffing dogs from multiple agencies visited Gig Harbor High School” to sniff out any illicit drugs. What exactly did the dogs find? Upon searching a student’s car, “a trace amount of marijuana shake was found in the cup holders and center console area, but no quantity was located for destruction or booking, according to the Gig Harbor Police Department.”

“Trace amounts,” in one car, that’s it. So was treating every student at the school like a criminal suspect worth it? Read More »


Seattle Speaks: Marijuana Policy

The Seattle Channel facilitated an interactive discussion last week focusing on marijuana policy in Seattle.  It included live and online audience participation.  ACLU of Washington Drug Policy Director Alison Holcomb was included on a panel of experts for the event.  Click through to see the video. Read More »

WA Supreme Court Protects Rights of Public Records Requesters

The right to obtain government documents is an important right for all people in Washington. It helps the public know what the government is doing and hold government agencies and officials accountable for their actions.

The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled that government agencies, including the Department of Corrections, must comply with the rules for public records requests, even when the requester is a prison inmate. The agency and its employees cannot go to court to stop the disclosure of the records without including the requester in the lawsuit. The court handed down the decision in Burt v. Department of Corrections on May 13.

Washington state has a strong law allowing any member of the public to request public records from government agencies. Using that law, an inmate at the state prison in Walla Walla submitted a request for public records relating to certain prison guards and employees.

The employees filed a suit to stop disclosure of the records. The court papers name their employer, the Department, as the “opposing party” even though the Department’s interests were more aligned with the employees than with the requesting inmate. The requester inmate was denied the chance to participate in the lawsuit, and the judge ordered the records would not be disclosed after only hearing from the employees and the Department.

The majority opinion ruled that Washington’s public records law was violated because the records requester should have been made a party to the lawsuit. The Court in part agreed with the ACLU’s position. The Court recognized the requester had an important interest at stake, that the government did not necessarily share the same interest as the requester, and that therefore it was unfair to exclude the records requester from the proceedings to determine if the records should be released.

Agreeing with the majority, Justice Richard Sanders wrote a separate opinion emphasizing that prison inmates have the same rights as any other person in making public records requests. He also admonished the Department and its employees for their conduct in this case and explained they must follow the same rules as everyone else in responding to public records requests, despite the requester’s status as an inmate. He urged judges to be “most skeptical of proceedings, such as this one, that have all the earmarks of a collusive lawsuit.”

The dissenting opinion agreed with one of the ACLU’s points. The ACLU believes that public records requesters should not be forced to be party to a lawsuit just because they exercise their right to see public records. Requesters must be given the chance to join the suit if they want to, but they should be free to decline participation if they wish.

The case was handled by ACLU-WA volunteer attorney Margaret Pak of Corr Cronin Michelson Baumgardner & Preece LLP and ACLU-WA legal director Sarah Dunne and ACLU-WA staff attorney Nancy Talner. Read More »


ACLU Activism: In a Town Near You

The ACLU-WA is busy protecting your civil liberties and civil rights in the courts, the legislature, and city and county halls – and we’re in the community. We have over 25,000 members across the state, including nine county chapters and eight student clubs. Our volunteer-powered chapters and clubs provide a local ACLU-WA presence in counties outside of the Seattle metropolitan area and in schools across the state. Chapters and clubs serve as “the eyes and ears” of the ACLU throughout Washington.

ACLU-WA chapters and clubs play a key role in promoting liberties through activism and public education. For example, our Pierce County Chapter was a pivotal player in establishing the City of Tacoma’s Citizen Review Panel (CRP), a policy-oriented board created to ensure transparency and accountability in the Tacoma Police Department. On June 2, the chapter will host a public forum with panel members of the CRP where the community can learn about CRP’s mission and role in the community. Our Whatcom County Chapter is working on a campaign to replace the death penalty with lifetime incarceration. And our ACLU-WA Gonzaga Law Club hosts lively debates on important civil liberties issues, like equality for LGBT families.

Want to be an ACLU activist? Find out if there is a chapter in your county or club at your school. And check the Events section of our website for information about any activities in your community. Read More »


Remove the Surveillance Cameras from Cal Anderson Park

In February 2008, without notice and despite a city council budget restriction to the contrary, former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels pulled a political end-around to have police surveillance cameras installed in Cal Anderson Park. At the time, the action was defended with the explanation that this was just a pilot program that would allow the the city to evaluate the effectiveness of the cameras. The forced pilot project ended in late January of this year, but as of April, the cameras were still recording 24 hours a day, unbeknown to the police or city council. Read More »

"Papers please"? No thanks.

Arizona's new law creates a mini-police state where people can be asked to show their papers to law enforcement simply because they look or sound "foreign." We must reject any efforts to enact such measures in Washington and make sure that what happens in Arizona stops in Arizona. Read More »