The controversial topic of immigration in Idaho moves into the spotlight Wednesday, June 16, when the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho launches its Law and Liberty Lecture Series. The three-part series—each offered as a midday one-hour panel discussion—will highlight hot button civil-rights topics.
“We chose topics that are relevant civil-liberty topics that we see going on nationally and locally,” said Monica Hopkins, ACLU executive director. “With immigration rights, we are talking specifically about the legal issues surrounding [Arizona's] Senate Bill 1070.”
ACLU fellow Tanaz Moghadam will lead the first lecture, considering Arizona's controversial strict, anti-immigration law.
“She has expertise in that area and will talk for around 45 minutes and then there will be a question-and-answer session to have more of a discussion,” Hopkins said.
Oral arguments surrounding SB 1070 have already been heard at the U.S. Supreme Court. A decision on the constitutionality of that legislation is anticipated by the end of this month.
“We have not seen in our state copy cat legislation, but there are Idaho legislators who have been on record saying they might introduce something after seeing the decision of the Supreme Court,” Hopkins said.
The series' second lecture, on Wednesday, July 11, will discuss capital punishment in the 21st century. Localized discussions will center on Idaho’s 14 current death row inmates, of which four are in active lawsuits challenging Idaho’s new execution protocols.
“Right now, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is deciding weather or not the policies that the Idaho Department of Correction have are constitutional under First Amendment free-speech guidelines, so this topic is very relevant,” Hopkins said.
Additionally, the lecture will add to national conversations of the evolving standard of decency, and debate over whether a civilized nation should still utilize execution.
The final lecture of the series will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 9. The topic of discussion will be women’s equality and reproductive rights. According to Hopkins, this subject is important both locally and nationally, as it was a large part of the last legislative session.
“You saw everything from personhood bills, to ultrasound bills, to political pundits saying really inappropriate things about women’s reproductive rights, like they should just hold aspirin between their knees, laughable stuff really,” Hopkins said.
The Law and Liberty Lecture Series is free and opened to the general public, promoting a mission of the ACLU to educate the public on their rights and civil liberties. Seats are limited and online registration is encouraged.
“They have been very lively in the past and they are a lot of fun,” Hopkins said. “We just hope people come and have a lively discussion and get more engaged in civil liberty in our state and in our nation.”
The first lecture will take place Wednesday at The Idaho Bar classroom from noon-1pm.