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Civil liberties are dynamic. Clashes over conflicting perspectives on freedom, equality, and justice occur regularly in the Golden state. Visit this page for news on civil liberties developments throughout California and how they relate to our past.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Immigration Case

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February 24, 2015
Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/69326519@N00/2221189566/">m

On February 23, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Fauzia Din, a U.S. citizen living in Fremont, who sued the federal government for denying a visa to her Afghan citizen husband and refusing to explain why.

In 1998, after the Taliban came to power, Din and her mother and sister fled Afghanistan and came to the U.S. as refugees.

In 2006, Din traveled to Afghanistan to marry a family friend. Soon after her wedding, she applied for her husband’s visa to the U.S. After a nearly three-year delay, the State Department denied the visa, offering no reason other than a vague “national security” allegation.  Ms. Din is an in-home caretaker. Her husband is a clerk in the Afghan Ministry of Education.

The State Department has insisted it has the right to deny visas without providing a reason.

In 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Kerry v. Din that the State Department was required to provide a legitimate basis for the denial. However, the Obama Administration appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

During Din's nine-year struggle to secure her husband's visa, dozens of family members, friends, and coworkers have vouched that he has no ties to any terrorist activity.

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Surveillance Lawsuit Dismissed

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February 11, 2015
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U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White dismissed part of a lawsuit brought by AT&T customers objecting to dragnet government surveillance of phone calls and e-mail messages. 

The lawsuit, filed in 2007, was inspired, in part, by revelations by a former AT&T technician in 2003 that equipment at a San Francisco AT&T facility allowed the National Security Administration (NSA) to conduct what he referred to as "vacuum cleaner" surveillance of all data crossing the Internet.

In 2005, the New York Times reported that the NSA had been conducting warantless wiretapping of domestic phone calls and e-mails with no judicial supervision or warrants.

In 2008, President George W. Bush approved legislation granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that had acted at the government's behest to supply private customer information. 

In his ruling, White said that the government would have to provide secret evidence that would risk grave damage to national security in order to refute the AT&T customers' claims of surveillance. 

White also said that the plaintiffs could not prove that their phone and e-mail data was part of the dragnet surveillance program.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents the AT&T customers, plans to appeal the decision.

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Sal Castro, Veteran Teacher and Advocate for Educational Equity, Dies at 79

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April 21, 2013
Photo by Jim Ober. Courtesy of Herald Examiner Collection / Los Angeles Public L

On April 15, 2013, Sal Castro, a teacher and counselor in Los Angeles schools for more than 35 years, died at his home in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

In March 1968, Castro was a 34-year-old social studies teacher at Lincoln High School in East Los Angeles. He helped organize Chicano students who were frustrated by overcrowded, understaffed, and run down schools in their neighborhoods.

Using the word "blowout" as the password for a student strike, 300 Chicano students walked out of Wilson High School on March 1.  The following day, 2,000 walked out of Wilson High School; the next day they were joined by 4,500 students from nearby Lincoln and Roosevelt High Schools.

Students were unprepared for the violent police reaction to their protest.  As students picketed in front of their high schools, Los Angeles police officers descended, attacking them with clubs. 

Officers identified student leaders and chased them through residential neighborhoods, where Mexican American families looked on in shock.

The "blowouts" and the police response attracted national attention, spotlighting the bleak educational conditions in East Los Angeles.

Eventually Castro and 12 others were indicted on charges of criminally conspiring to create riots, disrupt the functioning of the public schools, and disturb the peace.

Thousands of people picketed in front of the Los Angeles jail to support Castro and the 12 others who were called the "East L.A. Thirteen."

Charges were ultimately dropped against the East L.A. Thirteen after an appellate court judge ruled that they were exercising their fundamental First Amendment rights.

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