ACLU of the Nation's Capital Special Edition | October 5, 2010
Free Movie Passes to Conviction Premiere Hurry! First Come, First Served
We have 20 Free Passes (with guest, for a total of 40 persons) to CONVICTION, a film based on the heroic true story of Betty Anne Waters, who put herself through high school, college and, finally, law school in an 18 year quest to exonerate her brother, Kenny, from a murder conviction.
The Premiere will be Wednesday, October 13th at 7:30 PM, at the Landmark E Street. If interested, kindly send an e-mail to Johnny.Barnes@...
View the CONVICTION trailer
Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank (MILLION DOLLAR BABY, BOYS DON'T CRY) stars in CONVICTION, the story of the unwavering bond between brother and sister who made a solemn promise to always be there for one another, no matter what. When her older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested and sentenced to life in prison for murder, Betty Anne Waters, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction utilizing the newly burgeoning science of DNA testing. Convinced that her brother is innocent, Betty Anne puts herself through high school, college and finally law school on her quest to help her brother. With the help of Abra Rice (Academy Award nominee Minnie Driver), her best friend and de facto partner in the effort to free Kenny, Betty Anne seeks the help of famed lawyer Barry Scheck (Peter Gallagher) and his organization, The Innocence Project. Pouring through suspicious evidence mounted by Officer Nancy Taylor (Academy Award nominee Melissa Leo), a small town cop who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that Kenny was convicted, Betty Anne meticulously retraces the steps that led to Kenny's arrest. Over the course of nearly two decades, Betty Anne and her team uncover facts and evidence that ultimately set the defining legal precedent of DNA use in the American justice system.
ACLU Defends Free Speech in Supreme Court Funeral Protest Case
On October 6, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Snyder v. Phelps, a case in which the father of a U.S. Marine who had been killed in Iraq was awarded $5 million by a Maryland jury because he was offended by the messages on signs that he never even saw at his son's funeral in Westminster, Maryland.
For the ACLU, the case presents a vital free speech issue that we thought had been put to rest long ago: can speech on public issues be silenced simply because listeners find the views expressed to be offensive?
That is what this case is about. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church did not make any false statements about the fallen Marine or his family. They did not disclose to the public any private facts about them. They used the same signs they've used at many other protests around the country. And they did not disrupt the funeral -- they stood peacefully with their signs ONE THOUSAND FEET AWAY from the church where the funeral was held, in the place where the Westminster police told them to stand. They committed no civil disobedience of any kind.
Mr. Snyder (the Marine's father) did not even see the writing on the picket signs as he arrived at or departed from the funeral service. It was only at home later that day watching television coverage of the funeral that he saw what was written on the signs and became upset. His lawsuit thus has nothing to do with the conduct of the picketers, but only with the content of their message -- had their signs said "God Bess America," there would be no awsuit.
The jurors awarded damages (including punitive damages) to Mr. Snyder because they found that the church's messages were "outrageous" and "highly offensive to a reasonable person." But the law has been clear for many years that "the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers." Street v. New York, 394 U.S. 576, 592 (1969). That is the fundamental principle the ACLU is again defending here.
Read the ACLU's Supreme Court amicus brief in Snyder v. Phelps
All of the briefs filed in the case can be found on SCOTUSblog
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT WE THINK
Your views and opinions are important to us. If, in these brief articles, we strike a chord or touch a nerve, let me know. I can be reached at Johnny.Barnes@...
ACLU of the Nation's Capital | www.aclu-nca.org | 202-457-0800 202-457-0800