American Civil Liberties Union

Updated at 4 p.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has stepped away from its threat to file a First Amendment lawsuit against the Plum Borough School District for trying to restrict students' comments on social media about the investigation into sexual misconduct by at least two teachers. Plum Superintendent Timothy Glasspool clarified the district's position on its website late Monday morning following the threatened suit, as well as a student protest.

The city of Pittsburgh has reached a settlement with Dennis Henderson, a teacher who was arrested in June 2013 outside of a community meeting on police/community relations.

Henderson and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against the arresting police officer, Jonathan Gromek. The settlement was reached after mediation.

It’s safe the say that most, if not all Americans, know about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but what about their historical context? And what’s the difference between civil and criminal court cases?

The American Civil Liberties Union in Pennsylvania is hoping to address questions like these in its continuing series “Civics for Grown Ups.”

The month-long, four-part series will take place at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill and classes will be taught by experienced attorneys and educators.

Two groups that are often in opposition are now working together to kill a bill making its way through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference are butting heads with legislators over House Bill 162, which would give adopted adults access to their original birth certificates, including the names of their birth parents.

For the ACLU and the Catholic Conference, it’s an issue of privacy, but for Sens. LeAnna Washington (D-Philadelphia) and Judy Schwank (D-Berks) it’s a matter of civil rights.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed a federal lawsuit against Pittsburgh police officer Jonathan Gromek, who last summer arrested a black teacher after a community meeting on police/community relations in Homewood.

All charges against Dennis Henderson were withdrawn by the district attorney, but Henderson said that the damage that was done can’t be undone.

Minority and special-needs students are more likely to be disciplined by being suspended or expelled from schools. That’s according to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania: Beyond Zero Tolerance: Discipline and Policing in Pennsylvania Public Schools.

The study’s author, ACLU’s Harold Jordan, aggregated data from the commonwealth’s 500 public school districts on out-of-school suspensions, expulsions and removal by police.

State lawmakers are already considering efforts to tamp down bullying online, but one Democrat wants to quash a very particular kind of harassment.

Sexually explicit photos or videos that are posted without the consent of the person they feature have become known as “revenge porn.”

It’s illegal in New Jersey and was just banned in California.

Sen. Judy Schwank of Berks County said she’s talked to people whose reputations, job opportunities and safety has been affected by material their ex-spouses or ex-lovers posted online.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Thursday that she will not defend the state law effectively banning same-sex marriage from a legal challenge in federal court, meaning the task will be left up to Gov. Tom Corbett.

"I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's (law), where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional," Kathleen Kane announced Thursday at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania to make the state recognize gay couples.

The suit comes two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gay marriage but left state prohibitions intact. Lawyers say this is the first federal case since to be filed challenging a state's gay marriage law.

The Lawrence County woman who lost custody of her child after testing positive for drugs after eating a poppy seed bagel has settled her suit against the county and the hospital where the test was preformed. 

The American Civil Liberties Union took the case of Elizabeth Mort in 2010 and announced the settlement with Jameson Hospital and Lawrence County Children and Youth Services Tuesday. The two entities will pay $143,500 to settle the suit. 

Jenn Vargas / Flickr

 

  

The US Department of Justice released a report last Friday stating that a Pennsylvania State prison violated the civil rights of inmates with serious mental illness and/or intellectual disabilities.

The investigators found that the Cambria County prison they investigated placed mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time as a way of "warehousing" them.

The percentage of prisoners on the state's mental health roster has increased by more than 50 percent, since 1999, accounting for more than 20 percent of all inmates in the PA prison system.

A state Senate committee has passed a proposal to restrict abortion coverage in health insurance plans provided through Pennsylvania's federally mandated exchange.

Last session, similar measures passed the House and Senate independently, but neither one made it through the entire legislative gauntlet.

But with the 2014 operational date for health care exchanges right around the corner, Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson said this measure may go to the finish line.