In these unprecedented and uncertain times, we wanted to make sure you knew that the ACLU of Tennessee and our colleagues across the country are still hard at work and remaining vigilant.
We are monitoring the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure that it is no more intrusive on civil liberties than absolutely necessary and that any government measure is grounded in science and public health, not politics or xenophobia.
Here in Tennessee, the state legislature has decided to pass the budget and recess. Before recessing, however, today, they tried to pass SB2897, which would have revised our state’s open meetings act and allowed government meetings to be closed. Working with our partners, we were able to successfully lobby for an amendment that ensures government transparency and accountability during the current state of emergency.
We will continue to watch out for any actions the state legislature may take prior to recessing or upon their potential return in May or June that impact civil liberties and civil rights, including measures related to abortion access, discrimination against transgender people and voter suppression. We will keep you posted on any developments and actions you can take.
We also continue to monitor the rapidly changing landscape and are working hard to protect the most vulnerable among us in the face of this global public health crisis.
People in prisons, jails, and detention centers are uniquely vulnerable to coronavirus. To limit outbreaks of COVID-19, we are calling on officials to develop plans quickly in coordination with local public health officials to ensure the safety of incarcerated people, medical staff, and correctional officers.
And late yesterday, we and our partners secured a preliminary injunction that immediately allows the Nashville Community Bail Fund to continue its critical work of bailing people out of jail, which is more important than ever during this health emergency.
Nationwide, we at the ACLU have been working hard to protect the right to vote during the COVID-19 outbreak, to secure release for detained immigrants who are at high-risk of serious illness or death due to the coronavirus, to monitor limitations on access to the courts and government offices and to ensure the continuation of essential government services on which people’s rights and lives depend.
All that to say, we are all in this together, and we are here for you.
In health and solidarity,
Executive Director, ACLU of Tennessee