From a civil liberties standpoint, the Congress just ended made some advances, but more important was the legislation that would have eroded civil liberties that it blocked, John Shattuck, director of the American Civil Liberties Washington office, said yesterday.
"It demonstrated a wariness and frequent hostility toward minority rights, but in the end these rights remained intact except in the crucial area of abortion," said Shattuck, who released a scorecard on 16 votes the ACLU considered important.
Congress, according to the ACLU, preserved civil liberties by not passing legislation that would have-revised the federal criminal code "in ways which would have cut severely into rights of speech an dissent," given tuition tax credits to parents of parochial school children; barred busing; restricted the use of federal programs; required extensive and chilling disclosure by lobbyists, granted immunity from civil liability to federal officials in such cases as FBI break-ins, and expanded the death penalty.
The ACLU cited as advances:
A bill to require the executive branch to get judicial warrants for national security wiretaps and buggings.
"Whistleblower" protection in the Civil Service Reform Act.
Passage of the constitutional amendment to give D.C. residents full voting rights in Congress.
A bill requiring notification of 1/2 1/2 1/2 government searches of bank and credit card records.
A bank on discrimination against pregnant workers, preventing the denial of disability benefits by private employers.