6:18am

Thu May 10, 2012
Today's Assessment by the ACLU-TN

Assessing the 107th Tenn. General Assembly

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  WMOT News is giving community leaders from across the political spectrum a chance to comment on the just completed 107th Tennessee General Assembly. Today we look at the the views of Hedy Weinberg, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.

Weinberg counts the demise of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay,” bill as a legislative victory for the ACLU. The bill would have muzzled Tennessee teachers on the topic of homosexuality. Even though the bill failed, Weinberg believes its consideration has damaged the state.

“This legislation is not good for Tennessee, and in some ways was very embarrassing. We became the butt of jokes on the John Stewart Show and on the Colbert Report because of the effort to take away a teacher’s right to confront bullying.”

Weinberg says the ACLU is deeply concerned about several other laws that did pass. She’s especially troubled by the so-called “Monkey Law” that allows students and teachers to challenge the Theory of Evolution. The ACLU is also troubled by the new measure that will subject some welfare recipients to drug screening.

Overall, Weinberg says the ACLU found this Republican led legislative session deeply disturbing.

“We saw this 107th General Assembly as a full, frontal assault on civil liberties. There’s no question about it, that the majority of legislators attacked the principles of fairness, of freedom, of equality and justice. And those are the principles that are the cornerstone of our democracy.”

The ACLU will likely challenge some of the new laws in court. Weinberg says she’s already talking to concerned parents about a case against the Monkey Law.