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This Independence Day, Being Patriotic Means Knowing Your Rights

For many, Independence Day means “patriotism,” and these days, that can feel like an awfully loaded term. Conservatives have certainly co-opted it to mean flags and anthems, blind loyalty, militarism, nationalism and xenophobia.

For us progressives, patriotism means just the opposite. It means working to fix our imperfect democratic system of government and fighting for liberty and justice for all people, no matter their gender identity, immigration status, race, age or physical ability. It means protesting and speaking out when our government abuses power. It means exercising our right to vote.

It means fighting to protect our rights and the rights of our country’s most vulnerable.

This Independence Day, we’d like to highlight some resources from our allies and grantees to help you know more about your rights for this socially-distanced Fourth of July weekend. Enjoy!


Your rights at the voting booth

From the American Civil Liberties Union

This November’s election will be one of the most important in our lifetime. Yet many people face significant challenges accessing their right to vote because of a fundamentally unequal process rigged against people of color, seniors, immigrants and other marginalized communities. It will become that much more difficult amid a pandemic as some states and local governments will force voters to choose between their health and exercising their right to cast a ballot.

Our long-time grantees at the ACLU have compiled a great guide on knowing your voting rights, including what you’ll need to register to vote, documentation you may need on Election Day, and what to do if a poll worker says you’re not registered to vote.


Your rights when stopped by the police

From the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

As demands for justice and reform of our current policing systems echo across the country, it’s important to know our rights if we encounter police. Our grantees at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund have published a useful handout that can provide more information on what you can do if you’re stopped, questioned or arrested by the police, including suggestions on how to act, what to say and *not* to say and information you should collect.  


Your rights to access abortion services

From Planned Parenthood

The landmark 1973 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, affirmed the Constitutional right to an abortion. However, activist conservative judges and right-wing state governments have worked to chip away and erode these rights over the last few decades, making it nearly impossible for some people to access safe and legal reproductive services.

Planned Parenthood has published a comprehensive abortion access guide detailing the attacks on abortion rights, lists of states with 6 and 20 week bans, and more. They have also published a state-by-state list of parental consent laws for those under 18.


Your digital privacy rights at the border 

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Border agents have drastically increased their searches of electronic devices at the border in recent years, and generally speaking, the Fourth Amendment protects an individual’s property or person against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. However, searches of digital devices at the border fall into a complex maze of rules that are still being sorted out by courts and legal experts. 

Our allies at the Electronic Frontier Foundation provided CREDO members with a guide, “How to Protect Your Digital Data at the Border,” which can help you understand your risk for a search at the border and tips on securing and protecting your data.


Additional Reading

While the list above is far from comprehensive, the ACLU has published an incredibly useful “Know Your Rights” website with detailed guides for students, LGBTQ people, religious freedom, protesters, sex discrimination, prisoners and more.