Barack Obama Candidate Report on Civil Liberties


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Barack Obama began his political career as an Illinois state senator in 1996. Previously, he worked as a civil rights lawyer. 

Obama represented Illinois as a U.S. Senator until 2008, when he resigned upon his election to the U.S. Presidency. In 2008, Obama became the first African-American President of the United States.

The following are his current ratings on civil liberties issues:

Abortion Rights (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Three Torches

§ 2011: Supported federal funding for reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood, as well as the National Family Planning Program, but also agreed to reinstate the DC abortion ban during budget negotiations to avoid a government shutdown;
§ 2010: Failed to remove all abortion funding restrictions from his budget submission to Congress but eliminated direct funding for ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, created the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative;
§ 2010: Signed an executive order affirming the ban on federal funds for abortions during health reform;
§ 2009: Lifted the global gag rule (aka Mexico City Policy) that prohibits international organizations that receive U.S. aid from using their own non-federal funds to advocate for safe and legal abortion care;
§ 2009: Lifted the DC abortion ban that prevents the District from using its own locally raised funds to provide abortion services to low-income women enrolled in Medicaid.

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Contraception (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ 2012: Opposed as “dangerous and wrong” an amendment that would allow any employer or any insurer to discriminate and deny insurance coverage for a broad range of health care services – including but not limited to contraception – based on the CEO’s own religious or moral beliefs.

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Violence Against Women Act (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ 2012: Supports the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

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Family Medical Leave Act/Paid Sick Leave (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ 2009: Supported the Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee seven sick days a year to workers in companies with 15 or more employees; 
§ 2007: Co-sponsored the Healthy Families Act.

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Equal Pay for Women/Paycheck Fairness Act (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ 2012: Reiterated strong support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, saying “women deserve an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work because we want – because I want – my daughters to have the same opportunity as someone’s sons.”;
§ 2011: Devoted a weekly address to the importance of pay equity for women through passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act;
§ 2011: Marked Equal Pay Day with a presidential proclamation; 
§ 2010: Established the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force to address problems of pay discrimination;
§ 2010: Met with equal pay advocates at the White House to express his frustration atthe failure of the Paycheck Fairness Act and to emphasize the Administration’s commitment to closing the wage; 
§ 2010: Issued statement expressing disappointment about the failure of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate; 
§ 2009: Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that restored access to the courts to challenge unequal pay.

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Women in Combat (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Three Torches

§ 2012: Opened up new assignments for female troops that were previously off-limits, but maintained the military’s ban on women serving in combat.

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Title IX/Funding for Equality in Education (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ 2012: Said Title IX has made “society more equal.”;
§ 2010: Favored strong enforcement of Title IX.

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Public School-Sponsored Prayer (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:
N/A (No stated position.)
 

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Teaching Creationism in Public Schools (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ 2008: Opposed teaching Creationism in public school science classes.

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Using Religion to Discriminate (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ 2012: Opposed as “dangerous and wrong” an amendment that would allow any employer or any insurer to discriminate and deny insurance coverage for a broad range of health care services – including but not limited to contraception – based on the CEO’s own religious or moral beliefs.

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Views on Religious Freedom (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ 2010: Said that “religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose – including the right to believe in no religion at all. “
§ 2010: Supported the right to construct Park51, an Islamic community center with a prayer room in downtown Manhattan, saying, “our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.”
§ 2009: Said separation of church and state is important because it not only protects democracy but also protects the plurality of America’s religious and civic life.

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Government Funded Religion (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Two Torches

§ 2011: Opposed reauthorization of a private and religious school voucher program in Washington, DC.
§ 2009: Expanded the federal government’s faith-based program.
§ 2008: Promised important changes to strengthen the constitutionality of faith-based initiatives but, since 2011, has failed to make any changes, including addressing the issue of whether faith-based grantees can hire and fire individuals based on religion.

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Voter Suppression (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches
 

§ Is blocking the South Carolina law that would require photo identification at the polls, saying it violates the Voting Rights Act and will disproportionately affect minorities;
§ Leads a Justice Department that is a vocal advocate of equal access to the ballot and is defending the Voting Rights Act.
 

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Racial Profiling (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Two Torches

§ Signed Fair Sentencing Act taking first positive steps toward correcting guidelines that led to significant racial disparities in sentencing;
§ Has consistently challenged state laws that invite racial profiling by requiring law enforcement officers to check the immigration status if they suspect illegal entry;
§ Failed to remedy civil rights problems with the immigration enforcement program "Secure Communities.”;
§ Failed to reform Guidance Regarding the Use of Race in Federal Law Enforcement, which allows racial profiling in national security and border integrity investigation and opened the door to the FBI's racial and ethnic mapping program.

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Humane Immigration Policy (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Two Torches

§ Expanded “Secure Communities,” an enforcement program designed to arrest and deport undocumented criminals but that has resulted in racial profiling and the arrest of thousands of innocent immigrants and U.S. citizens;
§ Continued building a border fence and increased the border security budget and added more border patrol agents;
§ Opposes Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070, which criminalizes the lack of immigration papers, gives police broad authority to arrest people and promotes racial profiling, as a law that undermines “fairness” and “trust.”;
§ Supports the DREAM Act, which provides access to higher education and military service to many, regardless of immigrant status;
§ Deported 1.1 million people in three years, the most of any administration.

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Closing Guantanamo Bay & Indefinite Detention (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

One Torch

§ Took Ali al-Marri out of indefinite detention and criminally charged him, found new homes for some detainees transferred from Guantanamo and has not sent new detainees to Guantanamo or created new military detention facilities;
§ Backtracked on promises to close Guantanamo Bay and use civil courts by maintaining a system of indefinite detention and permitting military commission trials to continue.
 

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Gays & Lesbians Serving Openly In The Military (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Four Torches

§ Signed the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act” into law in December 2010.

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Ending Torture (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Three Torches

§ Ordered an end to the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, withdrew flawed legal analysis used to justify torture and applied the Army Field Manual on interrogations government wide;
§ Abolished the CIA secret prisons;
§ Says that “waterboarding is torture” and “contrary to America’s traditions… contrary to our ideals.”;
§ No reports of extraordinary rendition to torture or other cruelty under his administration;
§ Failed to hold those responsible for past torture and other cruelty accountable; has blocked alleged victims of torture from having their day in court.
 

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Ending A Surveillance State Under The PATRIOT Act (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:
No Torches

§ Voted for all reauthorizations and extensions, saying in May 2011 that “It's an important tool for us to continue dealing with an ongoing terrorist threat.”
 

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Freedom To Marry For Gay Couples (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Three Torches

§ Instructed the Justice Department in February 2011 to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act;
§ Opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage but does not support marriage equality;
§ Supports civil unions.

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Reproductive Choice (Read more on this)
Barack Obama's Rating:

Three Torches

§ In 2009, lifted the global gag rule (aka Mexico City Policy) that prohibits international organizations that receive U.S. aid from using their own non-federal funds to advocate for safe and legal abortion care, but also signed an executive order in March 2010 affirming the ban on federal funds for abortions during health reform;
§ Failed to remove all abortion funding restrictions in his fiscal year 2010 budget, but eliminated direct funding for ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs; created the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, and lifted the DC abortion ban that prevents the District from using its own locally raised funds to provide abortion services to low-income women enrolled in Medicaid;
§ Supported federal funding for reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood, as well as the National Family Planning Program, in the fiscal year 2011 budget, but also agreed to reinstate the D.C. abortion ban during budget negotiations to avoid a government shutdown.

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