News & Updates

By Brigitte Amiri, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

The imposing columns. The ornate and soaring ceiling. The hushed tone. The Supreme Court feels like a place where justice happens. There is a sense of importance, reverence, and loftiness. I've worked on every reproductive rights case to reach the Supreme Court in the last 15 years, and, as corny as it sounds, it is always thrilling for me to watch a Supreme Court argument. That excitement is what I felt on Tuesday when I was in the courtroom waiting for the Court to hear the Hobby Lobby case, which is a challenge to the federal law that requires health plans to include contraception.

By Shivana Jorawar, Esq., National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum

Next week, the South Dakota legislature is expected to pass HB 1162, a bill that stereotypes Asian immigrants and restricts access to abortion. Supporters of the measure are using racially inflammatory language, invoking nativism and warning of the supposed danger created by the presence of Asians in the state. The bans purport to criminalize doctors who perform "sex-selective abortions," which supporters claim are being sought out by Asian-American women.

Stace Nelson, one of the Representatives that voted in favor of the bill, stated, "Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was. There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state."

A letter to the South Dakota House of Representatives

Dear Representatives,

During the House State Affairs Committee meeting on February 19, 2014, there was a suggestion from Representative Wick that the ACLU supported a bill in Oregon which HB 1150 has been modeled after. It should be noted that the ACLU of Oregon in 1999 was neutral on the bill and subsequently opposed amendments to the law. In 2005 and again in 2011 when the ACLU testified against amendments, it made it clear that it opposed the underlying law for a variety of reasons including religious freedom.

Bills’ defeat is reflection of South Dakotan values

February 18, 2014

CONTACT: Heather Smith, ACLU of South Dakota, 605.332.2508 or

Pierre, S.D. – Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted down S.B. 128, a bill that would have allowed people to discriminate against LGBT people in South Dakota on the basis of their religious freedom.

“We’re elated that S.B. 128 was defeated in committee today,” said Heather Smith, Executive Director for the ACLU of South Dakota, “This bill wasn’t about religious protection under the First Amendment like the sponsors wanted us to believe—it was simply about discrimination.”  
By: Heather Smith, Executive Director

We've nicknamed Senate Bill 128 the kitchen sink bill because it includes a little bit of everything discriminatory. First and foremost this bill would impact LGBT people, but would also affect business owners, religious institutions, hospitals, and schools all in the name of the bill sponsors so-called religious freedom.

But it seems the bill sponsors are confused about what religious freedom means.

Religious freedom in America means that we all have a right to our religious beliefs, but this does not give us the right to use our religion to discriminate against and impose those beliefs on others who do not share them.

Ultimately, this bill is about discrimination.

PO Box 1170
Sioux Falls, SD 57101
Our Mission
Our History
Our Issues
Our Staff
Sign Up
Action Center
Cases We Accept
Submitting Your Request
Criminal Law Reform
Free Speech
LGBT Rights
Racial Justice
Human Rights
National Security
Religion & Belief
Voting Rights
Womens Rights

This is a Web site of the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation. Learn more about the distinction between the Union and Foundation. Privacy Statement | User Agreement