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Houston Breakthrough, November 1979
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Houston Breakthrough, November 1979 - Page 15. November 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 26, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1660/show/1642.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(November 1979). Houston Breakthrough, November 1979 - Page 15. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1660/show/1642

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, November 1979 - Page 15, November 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 26, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1660/show/1642.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, November 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date November 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
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Title Page 15
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File Name femin_201109_555an.jpg
Transcript Defending the Constitution The Houston chapter carried a heavy caseload this past year „by Carol Nelkin. How often have you heard someone say, "Oh, sure, I know all about the ACLU- They're the ones who defend the Nazis," or "They're the ones who want to protect criminals by turning the prisons into country clubs and doing away with the death penalty," or "The ACLU, aren't they the ones who take the prayers out of the schools and keep pornography on the newstands?" Statements of this nature never cease to make me cringe, not only because they imply a disagreement with the substantive issues the ACLU is involved in, but perhaps even more because they show such an incredible misunderstanding of what the ACLU is all about. Why is it that the image of the ACLU is so amorphous that many view us as the most radical of radical groups and others (frequently our friends) view us as the most moderate of mainstream movements? I believe that at least part of the reason the ACLU is viewed as it is lies in the fact that our society has become a single issue society. Even within the membership of the ACLU there are many people who are interested in only one of our various projects-whether it be prisoners' rights, women's rights, gay rights, voting rights or any one of the numerous issues supported and defended by the ACLU. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. To those who work for and cont- tribute to the ACLU because we are involved in their favorite issue, we are pleased with their participation in the ACLU. We could not exist without their support and we are most appreciative of it. I am simply trying to stress that the ACLU's single issue-the preservation of the Constitution-is a multifaceted, complex issue which is not to be confused with its myriad parts. The preservation of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution is, in my opinion, a most laudable and noble goal and, if one is to have a single issue to pursue, ours is one which I should think would be shared by a much larger segment of the populace than is reflected by the membership rosters of the ACLU. However, it is certainly no secret that, just as we have members who join us be cause of interest in a single issue, we have in the past lost many of our members due to their disagreement with a position taken by the ACLU on a particular issue. I emphasize that the ACLU must not be viewed on a case by case, issue by issue basis. The ACLU is voting rights and gay rights and women's rights and prisoners' rights and free speech rights and privacy rights and religious freedom rights. We do defend Nazis and murderers, pornographers and other controversial people. But what we really do is defend the Constitution of the United States. To my knowledge we are the only major national organization which has such a goal as its primary purpose for existence. To the extent we have not emphasized our primary purpose we have failed in one important aspect of our work-that is to educate whenever and whomever we can about the importance of the preservation of the Constitution to the freedom and dignity of humanity. One has only to pick up a newspaper and read about the events in Iran to appreciate the meaning of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and due process of law. It is the Constitution which gives us these rights and it is the ACLU which insures their continuity. Dassia Porper, Matthew Horowitz and Joan Glantz, our hardworking board of directors, our distinguished past chairpersons, our outstanding cooperating attorneys and volunteers, and all our members and supporters, understood how important constitutional principles are and have worked so diligently to see them protected. The ACLU's past achievements are things we can all be proud of. In tribute to all those who have worked so tirelessly, we will not be divided by single issues nor will we fashion our goals so narrowly as to lose sight of the overall purposes of the ACLU and the awesome responsibilities inherent in our goal. Carol Nelkin is chair of the Houston Chapter of the ACLU. During the last year, the Houston American Civil Liberties Union has recorded a number of significant sucesses. Here is a summary of recent developments in some of the major cases on the litigation docket of the Houston Chapter of the ACLU, compiled by Matt Horowitz and John Pollock. An Eye for an Eye Right now four people are being kept alive. The State of Texas pays attorney fees for criminal defendants only through the first appeal. Without the ACLU, persons sentenced to die would be on their own through the subsequent state and federal judicial reviews they are entitled to receive. The United States Supreme Court dismissed the ACLU's petition for review earlier this year in two cases: State v. Hughes—A May execution date was set. Cooperating attorneys Bill Yahner, Gerald Birnberg and Michael Maness won a stay in federal court, after an unsuccessful try in state court. State v. Felder—Cooperating attorneys Gerald Birnberg and Michael Maness intend to file further petitions, with the assistance of the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. The ACLU's petition for review is pending before the United States Supreme Court in the case of State v. Bell. Cooperating attorney is Rick Urban. Cooperating attorney Andrew Griffith is preparing a petition to the United' States Supreme Court in the case of State v. Starvaggi. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere The Houston Police Department still detains arrestees at the city jail for substantial periods of time without filing criminal charges or allowing access to bail. During these delays, arrestees may be subjected to physical brutality and third degree investigatory tactics. In the class action, Sanders v. City of Houston, cooperating attorneys Marty Levy and James Oitzinger challenge these policies, and ask that HPD be ordered to adopt more prompt, efficient administrative practices in booking and charging. Take It All Off Arrested for driving 60 miles per hour in a 50-miles-per-hour zone, the ACLU's client was arrested and taken to the city jail, where she was subjected to a strip search. Herrera v. City of Houston challenges the power of police officers to make custodial arrests instead of issuing citations to persons charged with routine traffic violations. This suit also challenges the constitutionality of strip searching persons arrested for minor offenses. Take It All Off, II The mother of a pretrial detainee at the Brazos County Jail was required to submit to a strip search when she arrived at the jail on visiting day—even though the jail does not permit contact visits. Cooperating attorney Annie Garcy asked a federal court in Harris v. Yeager to vindicate the rights of prisoners and their visitors to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. Wha . . . ? Can you believe Texas law permits persons to be held in jail indefinitely without being accused of any criminal offense? Jailed as a material witness to a criminal act after a judge decided she probably would not appear to testify at the trial of the accused, the ACLU's client remained in jail for more than six weeks. The judge set bond at $50,000 but reduced the amount to $5,000 when the woman said she could only make a bond for $1,000. v The judge also suggested that she seek a writ of habeas corpus—then denied the request. Mahorn v. Heard challenges the constitutionality of the law permitting incarceration of persons solely because they are material witnesses in criminal cases. Pay or Stay The city jail and municipal prison farm continue to be used as debtors' prisons for the detention of persons solely because they are unable to pay fines. In Morgan v. City of Houston, cooperating attorneys Steve Vaughn and Pat Wiseman are also challenging the inadequacy of physical facilities and other abuses. Pay or Stay, II By a bit of reasoning that somehow bypasses the Sixth Amendment, some county and district court judges trying criminal cases in Harris County have concluded that a criminal defendant who can post bond is necessarily able to hire a lawyer and is therefore ineligible for appointed counsel. In other words, if you don't hire your own lawyer, you have to stay in jail pending your trial. As a result, many indigent defendants panic and involuntarily plead guilty rather than face pretrial incarceration. Cooperating attorneys Judy Doran and Stuart Nelkin have challenged these practices in a federal court class action suit styled Maxwell v. McKay. But Can You Type? The Texas Department of Corrections continues to cling to 19th century gender /role concepts in its "rehabilitation" programs. Male inmates are offered training in highly marketable skills, including automobile repair, paint and body work, welding, meat cutting, TV/radio repair, printing, and air conditioning repair. Women are generally offered training in floriculture, horticulture, cosmetology, home economics, and secretarial science -skills which, for the most part, promise far lower earning potential. Male inmates are offered four-year college degree programs; female inmates can seek only a two-year Associate degree. Males are allowed to participate in work furlough programs; women are barred. Cooperating attorneys Lamar Hankins and Susan Perkins hope to correct these disparities in Quintan v. Estelle. NOVEMBER 1979 15 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH