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Public Interest Law

Public Interest Law

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Public Interest Law

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  1. Public Interest Law Jeremy Rosen Executive Director, ACLU of Iowa 505 Fifth Avenue, Suite 901 Des Moines, IA. 50309 (515) 243-3988 x11 Jeremy.Rosen@ACLU-IA.org

  2. Civil Liberties / Civil Rights The ACLU of Iowa

  3. “Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain” State of Iowa and ACLU of Iowa motto

  4. ACLU of Iowa • Founded in 1935; 5th oldest ACLU affiliate. • No receipt of government funding. • Can represent anyone. • Focus on civil liberties cases where we can have a major impact on the law.

  5. ACLU of Iowa • Voting rights (Schultz, Griffin) • Reproductive Freedom (Planned Parenthood) • Criminal Justice (Louisell) • Theme – Arguments under Iowa Constitution.

  6. Voting Rights • ACLU of Iowa and LULAC of Iowa v. Schultz • Successfully prevented use of unreliable federal database to remove registered individuals from voter rolls until they provided affirmative proof of immigration status. • Former Sec. of State Schultz had appealed to Iowa Supreme Court; Sec. of State Pate dismissed the appeal.

  7. Voting Rights • Griffin (filed in Polk County District Court) • Kelli Jo Griffin was arrested and prosecuted for voter fraud, for voting with a felony conviction. • Unaware of Gov. Branstad’s change to Vilsack and Culver Exec. Orders. • Iowa Constitution bans people convicted of “infamous crimes” from voting. • Chiodo – no misdemeanors; suggests only most severe felonies with impact on fitness to vote. • Griffin – non-violent drug felony. • Could impact thousands of voters.

  8. Reproductive Freedom • Planned Parenthood v. IBOM (amicus) • Telemedicine abortion had been permitted by IBOM • Gov. Branstad appointed new members and decision was reversed. • Strict scrutiny under Iowa Constitution? • Legitimate administrative law basis for new rule?

  9. Criminal Justice • Louisell (amicus) • In 1988, convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. • In 2012, U.S. Supreme Court said juvenile life without parole sentences required an individualized sentencing hearing. In 2013, Iowa Supreme Court clarified how to apply this. • Story County District Court re-sentenced to 25 years, based on circumstances of case, good behavior. • Issue is whether this was lawful under current law and recent cases.

  10. ACLU of Iowa • Intake • Encourage anyone to contact us and we will evaluate case. • Legal.Program@ACLU-IA.org • 515-992-0150 • Cannot take most cases presented to us. • Capacity is limited by size of legal staff. • Always need volunteer cooperating attorneys

  11. Iowa Civil Rights Act Bars discrimination based on age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability, in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and credit. Complaints go to Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

  12. Discrimination Complaint Process, pt. 1 Complaint filed with ICRC. Initial review to determine timeliness and jurisdiction. Mediation is available any time after a complaint is filed. (111 cases mediated in fiscal year 2014.) Parties notified and have 30 days to submit questionnaire / response. Complaint is “screened” to see if investigation is needed. Continued… 2014 Annual Report, Iowa Civil Rights Commission

  13. Discrimination Complaint Process, pt. 2 Complaint is “screened” to see if investigation is needed. 1) If screened in, case is assigned to a neutral, fact-finding investigator. 2) If screened out, case is closed. Reconsideration is available upon request. 3) Complainant can request a right-to-sue letter after 60 days. Lawsuit must follow within 90 days. OR OR A) If Probable Cause found, ICRC works to reach a settlement for the complainant. Case could go to a public hearing or be closed with right-to-sue letter available for two years. B) If No Probable Cause found, no right-to-sue letter given. Judicial review is available upon request. 2014 Annual Report, Iowa Civil Rights Commission

  14. Iowa Civil Rights Act: Employment It is an unlawful discriminatory practice for any: Person to refuse to hire, accept, register, classify, or refer for employment, to discharge any employee, or to otherwise discriminate in employment against any applicant for employment or any employee. . . unless based upon the nature of the occupation.Iowa Code 216.6 (emphasis added). • Labor organizations & employment agencies also covered • Employers with less than 4 employees or employ people in their home exempted. • Exception for “Any bona fide religious institution with respect to any qualifications it may impose based on religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, when the qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose, unless the religious institution owns or operates property for a commercial purpose…”

  15. Iowa Civil Rights Act: Public Accommodations It is an unlawful discriminatory practice for: [A]ny owner, lessee, sublessee, proprietor, manager, or superintendent of any public accommodation or any agent or employee thereof: To refuse or deny to any person because of .. . .the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services, or privileges thereof, or otherwise to discriminate against any person. . . in the furnishing of such accommodations, advantages, facilities, services, or privileges.” Iowa Code 216.7

  16. Examples of Covered Public Accommodations in Iowa Offers goods or services to the public for $ • Restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms • Retail businesses open to the public • Medical offices • Offers free services – gets public $ • Many social service facilities • Government offices/department – get tax $ • Public transportation, police, schools

  17. Iowa Civil Rights Act: Public Accommodation Exemptions • Private group. • Rental of room where there are less than 6 rooms in a single housing unit and is owner occupied. • Bona fide religious institution with genuine religious reasons for denying someone access. Examples: • Private book club • House of worship • Boy scouts • Parade organized by private religious group

  18. Iowa Civil Rights Act: Housing • Refuse to sell, rent, or other make unavailable real property. • Discriminate with respect to terms and conditions of sale, rental, or related services. • Discriminate related to advertisements. • Ask buyers or renters about their status as part of a protected group. • Misrepresent whether property is available

  19. Contact Information Jeremy Rosen Executive Director, ACLU of Iowa 505 Fifth Avenue, Suite 901 Des Moines, IA. 50309 (515) 243-3988 x11 Jeremy.Rosen@ACLU-IA.org