PHILADELPHIA - The Mahanoy Area School District filed a notice of appeal today in B.L. v. Mahanoy Area School District. The school district seeks reversal of a district court ruling that the school district violated a student’s free speech rights when it removed her from the cheerleading squad as punishment for a Snapchat post containing profanity that she made on the weekend, off campus, and on her own smartphone.
PITTSBURGH - Eleven students from McKeesport Area High School filed a federal civil rights lawsuit today against the school district for denying the students permission to form a student club called the “Black Student Union.” The students, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, proposed the establishment of the McKeesport Black Student Union, but school administrators consistently diverted the students by requiring new conditions and eventually by refusing to approve the club. District Superintendent Mark Holtzman, Jr., who has publicly expressed his displeasure with both the name and mission of the Black Student Union, recruited a group of students to form another club called the McKeesport Student Union, for the purpose of “fun activities,” according to a press report.
HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation today known as Marsy’s Law, which amends the state constitution to add language related to the rights of victims of crime. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has criticized the legislation out of concern that it will diminish the ability of people who are accused of crimes to defend themselves and that it will give the government more power in prosecuting cases.
HARRISBURG - On Wednesday, an officer employed by the State College Police Department in Centre County shot and killed Osaze Osagie, a 29-year-old African-American man who appeared to be having a mental health crisis. Officers were serving a mental health warrant, which is issued when a person may be subject to involuntary commitment under Pennsylvania law, on Osagie at his apartment.
HARRISBURG – The team of public interest lawyers who brought two federal civil rights challenges against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for its policy of copying and storing legal mail announced today that they had reached the final terms of a settlement with the department. The settlement was finalized in a filing with the federal district court overseeing the cases.
PITTSBURGH – After a jury in Allegheny County this evening found former police officer Michael Rosfeld not guilty for killing teenager Antwon Rose II in East Pittsburgh borough last summer, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania responded with a statement calling for reforms in policing that promote transparency and accountability.
SCRANTON - A federal court on Thursday ruled that the Mahanoy Area School District in Schuylkill County violated the free speech rights of a student when the school removed her from the cheerleading squad in 2017 for off-campus expression. The student, who was in tenth grade at the time, had posted a “Snap” to the popular social media platform Snapchat that, using expletives, expressed her frustration with school and with cheerleading. She was punished under cheerleading team rules that prohibit “disrespect” and prohibit posting any “negative information” about cheerleading online.
HARRISBURG - A coalition of community advocates issued a statement today that offered critical feedback on the new immigration enforcement policy of the Pennsylvania State Police. While acknowledging some positive aspects of the policy, the groups expressed their strong concerns that the policy undermines public safety by muddying the lines between the state police and federal immigration authorities.
HARRISBURG - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania returned to federal court today in a new filing against the state Department of Human Services (DHS), more than three years after first bringing a lawsuit on behalf of people who have been found too mentally ill to stand trial but who are housed in jails instead of healthcare facilities. The new complaint argues that DHS’s implementation of previous settlements in the case has failed to produce constitutionally acceptable results, with some patients remaining in jails for months at a time.
PHILADELPHIA — On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the law firm of Arnold & Porter announced that they have filed a new lawsuit to bring bail practices in Philadelphia courts in line with the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. The lawsuit states that bail decisions in Philadelphia County rely too heavily on cash bail without considering alternatives that have been proven more effective than cash bail and don’t effectively punish people for being poor.