Since 1959, the ACLU of Arizona has worked in courts, the Legislature, and communities statewide to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With the help of nearly 20,000 members and tens of thousands more supporters, we are able to take up the toughest civil liberties fights. Our work is not about one person, one party, or one issue. It is about all of us, we the people, coming together and daring to create a more perfect Arizona. We are in this together.
Click here to view documents from the ACLU of Arizona’s archives. Special thanks to the University of Arizona Library for keeping the ACLU of Arizona’s archive.
1959 - Oyama v. Grace
Henry Oyama and Mary Ann Jordan were refused a marriage license by the Pima County Clerk because of an Arizona law dating back to 1887 that prohibited interracial marriage. The Pima County Superior Court agreed with the ACLU of Arizona that the law violated the U.S. Constitution, which demands the government treat everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, equally. The case laid the groundwork for the landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down all state laws barring interracial marriage.
1962 - Planned Parenthood v. Maricopa County
Maricopa County employees were prohibited from referring patients to Planned Parenthood because of a 1901 Arizona law that forbid the advertising or publication of birth control information. An ACLU of Arizona challenge to the law spurred the Arizona Supreme Court to narrow the scope of the statute, ruling that birth control materials could not be recommended by brand names, but no restrictions were placed on information concerning their use and availability.
1966 - Miranda v. Arizona
In one of the most famous cases in American law, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the ACLU of Arizona that everyone suspected of a crime should be advised of their basic rights when taken into police custody. The Miranda rights are named after Ernesto Miranda, a man who was arrested in Phoenix and confessed to a crime without realizing he was entitled to remain silent and to have an attorney present during his police interrogation.
1966 - Elfbrandt v. Russell
Teacher Barbara Elfbrandt refused to sign a loyalty oath required of state employees by Arizona law. The ACLU of Arizona took her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down the Arizona oath as unconstitutionally vague, finding it violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's free association guarantee.
1967 - In re Gault
Fifteen-year-old Globe teenager Gerry Gault made a lewd phone call to a neighbor and was caught. For this misdeed, he was sentenced-without going to trial-to juvenile prison until age 21. At the time, an adult convicted for the same behavior would have received a 60-day sentence. Gault's case was taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court by the ACLU of Arizona. The case established that juvenile courts must grant minors many of the procedural protections required in adult trials by the Bill of Rights: timely notice of the charges, the right to counsel when the juvenile might be placed in custody, the right to cross-examine witnesses, warning against self-incrimination, and the right to remain silent.
1970 - Peckham v. Marana High School
A student was barred from school because of the length of his hair. The ACLU of Arizona argued that students should not be kept out of school unless it could be shown that their appearance disrupted the educational process. The Arizona Court of Appeals forced the high school to re-admit the student, saying that the school's attempt to keep him from class was arbitrary and unreasonable.
1977 - Bates & O’Steen v. State Bar
The State Bar censured the law firm of Bates & O'Steen for advertising in a local newspaper. After the Arizona courts agreed with the State Bar, the ACLU of Arizona appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that attorneys have the right to advertise.
1984 - Black v. Ricketts
A prisoners' rights case brought by the ACLU to end cruel and unusual punishment in facilities operated by the Arizona Department of Corrections. A settlement with the state improved prison policies and procedures related to the use of force against prisoners, prisoner mail, food, sanitation, hygiene, and solitary confinement.
1988 - ACLU of Arizona v. Hull
At the behest of a national religious organization focused on promoting Christianity, Governor Jane Hull proclaimed "Bible Week." She urged Arizonans to read the Bible, characterized the Bible as the fundamental founding document of the United States, and urged people to seek spiritual guidance from it. After the ACLU of Arizona lawsuit was filed, Governor Hull quickly withdrew the proclamation.
2001 - Arnold v. Department of Public Safety
The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging racial profiling by the Arizona Department of Public Safety along highways 1-17 and 1-40 in Coconino County. Because of the case, the agency agreed to collect data about the race of all drivers stopped and searched.
2007 - Frazier v. Boomsma
The ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit on behalf of Dan Frazier, the Flagstaff-based operator of a website that sold shirts prominently stating, "Bush Lied, They Died. 11 The names of soldiers killed in Iraq were printed in the background. With Frazier as the clear target, the Arizona Legislature unanimously passed SB 1014. This bill made it a crime for a person to use the names of deceased soldiers without family permission and allowed family members of deceased soldiers to sue people like Frazier. In a victory for free speech, a federal court accepted the ACLU position that the anti-war message, including the names of soldiers killed in Iraq, was clearly "political speech" about a matter of great public concern.
2007 - Lopez-Valenzuela v. Maricopa County
After a long legal battle, the ACLU prevailed in blocking further implementation of Proposition 100, a state constitutional amendment that for years prevented judges from considering bail for criminal defendants suspected of being in the United States without authorization. This prohibition applied to most state felony charges in Arizona, including relatively minor crimes such as shoplifting and possessing a phony ID. State courts were required to jail countless individuals who posed no risk of flight or danger to others. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the ACLU that categorically denying bail to undocumented immigrants violates the constitutional right to due process.
2009 - Safford Unified School District v. Redding
Savana Redding, an eighth grader at Safford Middle School, was pulled from class by the school's vice principal. Earlier that day, the vice principal had discovered ibuprofen in the possession of Redding's classmate. Under questioning and faced with punishment, the classmate claimed that Redding, who had no history of disciplinary problems, had given her the pills. Based solely on the uncorroborated claims of the classmate facing punishment, school officials undertook an invasive strip search of Redding in an unsuccessful attempt to find more pills. After many years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school officials violated Redding's constitutional rights when they strip searched her based on a classmate's uncorroborated accusation. The case was a major victory for the rights of students.
2010 - Valle del Sol v. Whiting
The ACLU and other civil rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging SB 1070, Arizona's notorious racial profiling law. After six years of litigation, the courts rendered SB 1070 largely unenforceable. The Arizona Attorney General issued an opinion setting down narrow guidelines for how two remaining provisions of the law can be enforced. It is now clear that police officers cannot use race or ethnicity to develop reasonable suspicion that someone is unlawfully present in the U.S., cannot stop people solely to investigate immigration status, and cannot hold people in order to investigate immigration status if it will extend the stop.
2012 - Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer
The same day that President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program went into effect, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer banned DACA recipients, young immigrants who have permission from the federal government to live and work in the U.S., from getting Arizona driver licenses. The ACLU sued, and after several years, won the right to licenses for these Dreamers.
2013 - Isaacson v. Horne
The ACLU challenged an Arizona law that criminalized virtually all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The law, the most extreme abortion restriction in the nation at the time, would have forced a physician caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to wait until her condition imposed an immediate threat of death or major medical damage before offering her the needed care. The ban also did not include exceptions for a woman who received the devastating diagnosis that the fetus would not survive after birth. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in May 2013.
2013 - Melendres v. Arpaio
After more than five years of litigation, and following a three-week trial, the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office was found to have engaged in racial profiling and unlawful traffic stops of Latinos. A federal judge issued an order mandating changes the agency must make to prevent continued misconduct and safeguard Latinos from future violations of their constitutional rights. In 2016, the judge found Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his top deputies in contempt for violating court orders. President Trump later pardoned Arpaio, yet again demonstrating his racism.
2014 - Jacobson v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
The ACLU of Arizona filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of residents of Arivaca, challenging U.S. Border Patrol's obstruction of their efforts to observe an interior checkpoint near the town. The residents are members of People Helping People, a community group that has been attempting to watch, photograph, and video record the actions of agents at the checkpoint on Arivaca Road in Amado. In response to recurring reports of abuse by agents, the group monitored the checkpoint from an adjacent public right-of-way. The lawsuit, which is ongoing, asserts that Border Patrol has infringed and restricted First Amendment rights by threatening the residents with arrest for engaging in constitutionally protected speech while they observe the checkpoint.
2015 - Parsons v. Ryan
In 2015, a federal court approved a settlement between the Arizona Department of Corrections and the ACLU, which with this lawsuit represents all prisoners in Arizona's state-run prisons-more than 33,000 people. The settlement, which is still being enforced, is improving prisoners' medical, mental health, and dental care. The settlement also allows prisoners in solitary confinement who have serious mental illnesses to have more mental health treatment and time outside their cells.
2016 - Demand to Learn Campaign
The ACLU of Arizona launched the Demand to Learn campaign to make Arizona's public education system more equitable for all students, including students of color, English language learners, and students with disabilities. The Demand to Learn campaign is focused on eliminating practices that push children out of school or prevent them from enrolling.
2017 - Campaign for Smart Justice
Imprisonment is a brutal and costly response to crime that traumatizes incarcerated people and hurts families and communities. It should be the last option, not the first. Yet Arizona has the fourth highest incarceration rate in the United States. Decades of bad policies have torn families apart and cost our state billions. The ACLU of Arizona's Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multi-year effort to reduce Arizona's jail and prison population by 50 percent and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
2018 - Puente v. City of Phoenix
The ACLU of Arizona filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Phoenix, Phoenix's chief of police, and a number of Phoenix police officers for violating the free speech rights of thousands of peaceful anti-Trump protesters who were gathered during and after a rally the president held on August 22, 2017, at the Phoenix Convention Center. Phoenix police officers ended the peaceful protest when they began attacking protesters with heavy weaponry including pepper balls, tear gas canisters, and foam batons. Phoenix police fired more than 590 projectiles indiscriminately and many Arizonans went home from the protest with physical and emotional trauma because of police actions. The lawsuit is ongoing.
WE THE PEOPLE DARE TO CREATE A MORE PERFECT ARIZONA
The ACLU defends the constitutional rights of all people. Our work is not just about one person, one party, or one issue. It is about all of us, coming together, daring to create a more perfect union. For more information, to become a member, make a donation, or get involved, visit acluaz.org.
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