The ACLU has been at the forefront of the protection of free speech, freedom of religion and reproductive rights for 100 years. Rarely have so many essential issues been in play as during the past three years. In honor of the release of the documentary THE FIGHT, Peter Simonson, Executive Director, ACLU-NM, will speak with Brigitte Amiri, deputy director at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, about the ACLU’s activities on local and national levels during the Trump Administration.
About THE FIGHT: Seven days after inauguration, President Donald Trump instituted a ban on travel from primarily Muslim nations, one that many took as a stunning assault on civil liberties. Immediately, the American Civil Liberties Union snapped into action. It took just 30 hours for ACLU attorneys to emerge from a Brooklyn courthouse, fists raised high, having blocked what they considered an unconstitutional decree. Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman, creators of the unforgettable political doc WEINER, tell a modern-day David vs. Goliath story, with our free expression rights at the center.
Brigitte Amiri, a deputy director at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, is currently litigating numerous cases, including leading the Jane Doe case, challenging the Trump administration’s ban on abortion for unaccompanied immigrant minors. She also represents the last abortion clinic in Kentucky, and went to trial last year after the governor threatened to close the clinic’s doors. Ms. Amiri also leads the Project’s efforts to ensure that religious objections are not used to discriminate against or harm women seeking access to reproductive health care, and is involved in several cases on this topic, including the rollback of the ACA’s birth control benefit and a challenge to a Catholic hospital’s denial of tubal ligations at the time of delivery. Ms. Amiri has been an adjunct assistant professor at New York Law School and Hunter College.
Peter Simonson is Executive Director for the ACLU of New Mexico, a post he has held since 2000. Under Peter’s leadership, the ACLU-NM has posted some of its most important victories, winning the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, banning the practice of civil asset forfeiture in the state, and defeating an Albuquerque ordinance that threatened to limit abortion access throughout New Mexico. Also during his tenure, the ACLU-NM grew from a staff of 4 to 18 and opened a second office near the US-Mexico border devoted to immigrant and border affairs. Prior to the ACLU, Peter worked for two different immigrant rights organizations in Albuquerque. He earned his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan and worked for several years in sustainable development and ethnographic research in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
John C. Bienvenu is an attorney whose legal practice is dedicated to impact litigation in the areas of complex civil litigation in class actions, civil rights, constitutional law, discrimination, sexual harassment, first amendment violations, consumer law, and business torts. Mr. Bienvenu received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1988 and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America. He has served as lead counsel in numerous class actions and other complex civil disputes in state and federal courts.