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ACLU Of Idaho Celebrates Recent Rulings, Focuses On Current Legal Battles


In the wake of a pair oflandmark Supreme Court rulings on the future of DACA dreamers and upholding the constitutional protections for LGBTQ persons, ACLU of Idaho recognizes there's little time to celebrate.

"This past week was an incredible week," said Leo Morales, executive director of ACLU of Idaho. "Indeed, it was good news. Nevertheless, there's still work to be done."

Morales visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk a bit about the recent rulings, but more about some warning signs ahead — in particular, the growing number of evictions in the shadow of a pandemic that has no signs of ending anytime soon.

“We continue to do the best that we can during very difficult circumstances to ensure that we continue to protect the constitutional rights of Idahoans.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I'm George Prentice. Two big Supreme Court rulings last week struck right at the heart of Idaho on issues of protecting the thousands of, now young adults, who came to this country as children, we know them as dreamers. Of course the high court also handed down a landmark LGBTQ protection decision. Leo Morales is Executive Director of ACLU of Idaho. He joins us this morning, live via Zoom. Leo, good morning.

LEO MORALES: Good morning, George.

PRENTICE: Well, I have to assume that there was some celebration last week, but your office is the first to know that the work and the fight continues. Yes?

MORALES: Yes. This past week was an incredible week, not only for ourselves at the ACLU but for millions of Americans across the country who, I would say, join in celebration of a pair of Supreme Court victories that we had, particular during very challenging times. So indeed, it was good news but, nevertheless, there's still work that needs to be done.

PRENTICE: I want to talk a little bit about the pandemic. This wide, long shadow of the pandemic, has it provided some cover for bad behavior, roadblocks to due process, roadblocks to constitutional protections, growing numbers of evictions. Have you seen that?

Credit Photo curtesy ACLU of Idaho
Photo curtesy ACLU of Idaho
Leo Morales

MORALES: I'm glad that you raised that. I think that COVID has definitely put us in a historic moment of different behavior by institutions, by individuals, et cetera. With regards to eviction, that is one area that we have raised concerns here in Idaho and across the country. We have indeed notice that governments have behaved differently with regards to the treatment of individuals. Evictions is one of those cases where we have seen, like here in Idaho where certain owners have been wanting to move faster with regards to evictions. The courts have also have been in an interesting place of having to make rulings. We actually engaged in fighting for the protections of individuals to make sure that they are still able to be in their home during these difficult times.

Now, the federal CARES Act allows for protection for landlords and, yet in certain circumstances, you little landlords were willing to push out their tenants. That, again is something that I think we should take notice of. Again, the ACLU has been at the forefront here in the state to make sure that individuals who are in a very difficult situation... Many of these are essential workers or individuals who also have been furloughed, have lost their jobs because of COVID and having paycheck to paycheck. Now forcing them to be booted out from their home was such an injustice. But again, the ACLU has been involved. We filed the lawsuits and we will continue to be active on this particular issue.

PRENTICE: For the record, evictions are continuing in Idaho, yes?

MORALES: That is correct. Evictions are continuing and the ACLU has been monitoring this. Again, we filed, not too long ago, a case along with Idaho legal aid to force the state of to Idaho really make a decision on what some believe is unclear but to us, it's very clear. That is that individuals have a constitutional right to a jury trial. That is something that I think that the courts need to make a decision soon, so that individuals can actually have a jury trial of their peers.

PRENTICE: I have to assume that your office is busier than ever, but what has it been like for you and your colleagues to work in this climate where we communicate from afar?

MORALES: It's been challenging. COVID started and that added significant amount of work to our plate. Of course, most recently we also have the movement for black lives and that has added more as well. Again, working from afar, we try to do the best to communicate via Zoom. Internet is still not reliable across the city. That sometimes makes it a challenge for us where our internet is dropping, our calls are dropping. We're having to adjust just like many other people are to ensure that we continue to do the best that we can during very difficult circumstances to ensure that we continue to protect the constitutional rights of Idahoans.

PRENTICE: He is Leo Morales, Executive Director of ACLU of Idaho. Leo, as always, thank you, stay safe, stay well.

MORALES: Thank you, George.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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