ordinance. The city had erected one obstacle after another: It threatened to arrest the demonstrators, told them to apply for a permit, and then refused to accept it — directing them to apply by mail, and purchase insurance, subject to penalties of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail for failure to comply. The city backed down after the ACLU entered the case, offering to forgo prosecution of the group and revise its onerous ordinance. By August 2002, ACLU of New Jersey had the proposed new ordinance under review.
As described elsewhere in this report, the ACLU also wrote to foreign embassies with offers of legal assistance for detainees caught in the FBI dragnet; prepared model writs of habeas corpus for those being held without charges; and hired a documentary filmmaker to interview detainees, lawyers and families.
“Law enforcement has been given virtually unfettered access” to investigate individuals “with little or no judicial review,” the ACLU’s Laura W. Murphy said. “The courts are powerless to stop the seven-day detention of wholly law abiding noncitizens
and can pose little challenge to their indefinite detention.” “In treating the judiciary as an inconvenient obstacle to executive action rather than an essential instrument of accountability,” said Ronald Weich, author of the ACLU report, Upsetting Checks and Balances: Congressional Hostility to Courts in Times of Crisis, “the recently passed USA PATRIOT Act builds on the dubious precedent Congress set five years ago when it enacted a trilogy of laws that, in various ways, deprive federal courts of their traditional authority to enforce the Constitution of the United States.” THE ACLU DID NOT TAKE THIS DIRECT ASSAULT LYING DOWN. IT MOUNTED A NATIONAL ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN TO UNDERSCORE THE IMPOR- TANCE OF INFORMED DEBATE IN A FREE SOCIETY, AND BROUGHT A NUMBER OF LEGAL CHALLENGES ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHOSE RIGHTS HAD BEEN VIOLATED OR WHOSE VOICES STILLED.