The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has always been a vibrant civil right group with a number of outstanding success stories. It is thus expected that with the recent support from Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, the organization will surpass its former successes.
The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund came out of the fallout of a legal battle with Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It all started when Lacey and Larkin were illegally taken from their homes and jailed for revealing grand jury proceedings to cover the atrocities of the Sheriff.
Being journalists and human right activities who will never allow anyone to trample on their First Amendment rights, they sued the County. The United States Court of Appeals gave victory to these activists and compel the County to meet the $3.75 million demanded by Lacey and Larkin for damages.
The money has since been converted to a fund for providing financial support to groups that advocate human, civil and migrant rights across Arizona and its environs including the Mexican border (la Linea fronteriza). The fund also lends support to civic participation and freedom of speech in the areas mentioned.
As the ACLU of Arizona jeers up for greater exploits in defending and championing the rights of citizens with some more funds from the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, it is apt to look at some of the good works of the group before now.
Since ACLU came into existence 1959, it has not failed challenging unconstitutional Arizona laws aimed at depriving minorities. In 1960, it was in court fighting a state law to ban multi-racial marriages. Final judgment went in favor of the ACLU. The organization defense of laborer Ernesto Miranda was also a success. Mr. Miranda was convicted of rape without evidence other than police confession.
In 2007, it took the intervention of the ACLU to successfully litigate an historic federal class lawsuit, Melendres v. Arpaio. A conservative federal judge had to pass a rule in 2013 eliminating rampant unconstitutional policing after Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies were found guilty of engaging in racial profiling of innocent Latinos in traffic stops. Read more: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427427/Jim_Larkin
Also, the ACLU once proved its support for free speech by successfully defending day laborers when they were almost striped of their right to free speech. The organization helped won a federal case that eliminated state laws denying bail to immigrants. ACLU was among the legal team that successfully challenged Arizona’s infamous phrase: “Papers Please”.
Recent activities of the ACLU show that the organization has not gone to sleep. It is currently challenging Jan Brewer, Arizona Governor, for ordering the forfeiture of driver’s licenses to young immigrants even when these immigrants have federal permission to remain in the United State on account of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Another issue currently generating concern is the Arizona law that classified working with fake documents among other cases of deportable felony. The ACLU, as usual, has formed a legal team with other activists to fight this ugly development.
Obviously, the ACLU has an enviable record of defending the rights of people. It is hoped that other human right groups will toe the path of ACLU as well as that of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. Both men displayed uncommon magnanimity in releasing much needed fund to civil liberty groups including the ACLU of Arizona.
Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: