As homelessness steadily rises in America, so too does the willingness of state and local governments to use criminal laws against their homeless residents. Earlier this year, a federal appeals court found that laws making it illegal to sleep in public violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment when they're used against individuals without access to shelter. Maria Foscarinis, the founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, discusses the decision, criminalization broadly, and other systemic obstacles to addressing the needs of homeless people.
Jill Lepore on the Construction of American Citizenship (Episode 25)
Almost 250 years after the adoption of the Declaration of the Independence, debates about founding principles like equality, rights, and representation are as fraught as ever. Jill Lepore, a Harvard history professor and New Yorker staff writer, discusses her latest book, “These Truths,” an ambitious exploration of the evolution of our nation from its earliest days.
A Shifting Landscape for Transgender Rights (Episode 24)
The state of transgender equality is in rapid flux in state legislatures, in federal law, in the courts and at the ballot box. Progress is consistently met with backlash. In the past midterm election, Massachusetts voters staved off an effort to dismantle legal protection for trans individuals in public spaces. Yet the Supreme Court is poised to reconsider legal victories won by trans plaintiffs in the federal courts, and Trump's White House seeks to exclude trans people from the military and from federal anti-discrimination law. Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, discusses the current legal landscape.
A Growing Movement for Ethical Tech (Episode 23)
In recent weeks, hundreds of Amazon employees have spoken out to oppose the company marketing its facial recognition software for use by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They join a chorus of voices — both in the tech world and outside of it — who are concerned about the use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement. We’re replaying a recent episode on the impact of A.I. on our civil liberties, featuring Meredith Whittaker of the AI Now Institute.
What’s the Deal With Florida? (Episode 22)
Florida seems perpetually to be at the center of the national conversation and news cycle. The current recount to determine the results of Florida's Senate and gubernatorial races is just the latest in a series of high-profile elections and attention-grabbing cases in the Sunshine State. This week’s guest, Howard Simon, has had a front row seat to it all as the executive director of the ACLU of Florida for over 20 years. We’re asking Howard for his insights into a state that reflects a lot of the divisions in this country.