With recent victories in the courts and in the legislature, New Jersey has set important examples for other states to follow by protecting and expanding civil rights and liberties. In a time where fundamental rights are under threat across the country, it’s more important than ever that our state cements its position as a national leader – but New Jersey must take steps to achieve it.  

As we aim for greater progress in the new year, it’s important to take stock of this year’s accomplishments – and to hold those in power accountable. Here’s our snapshot of the legislative wins, stalemates, and hopes for civil rights in New Jersey: 

Reproductive Freedom 

The ACLU of New Jersey is committed to ensuring reproductive health care, including abortion, is accessible for all New Jerseyans regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, income, or insurance, and continues to center the experiences of patients and providers in the fight for reproductive justice. 

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its devastating ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, it emboldened anti-abortion politicians across the country to decimate access to abortion and force millions of people to remain pregnant against their will. New Jersey took the crucial step of reaffirming and protecting the right to abortion by signing the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act into law in January, but more must be done to support patients and providers.  

New Jersey must make abortion accessible for all who need it, and that means passing the Reproductive Equity Act, which has been stalled in the Legislature. Write your lawmakers today and demand they take immediate action to expand access to abortion in our state. 

Police Accountability 

Injustices in policing in New Jersey are deeply rooted in systemic racism. New Jersey must enact policies that reflect the urgency of reducing the outsized power of police and of holding police accountable to their communities.   

Despite tireless calls from advocates across the state, lawmakers have refused to take legislative action to curb excessive police power. Achieving accountability and transparency in policing is a cultural shift that requires systemic change – and lawmaker action.  

The ACLU-NJ continues to call for the passage of a slate of bills – including full transparency for police disciplinary records and granting community review boards subpoena power and the ability to hold concurrent investigations– that would begin to curb excessive police power and place power with communities, especially communities of color that bear the brunt of law enforcement. Make your voice heard by writing to lawmakers and telling them to take legislative action that builds transparency and accountability in policing. 

Immigrants’ Rights 

As one of the most diverse states in the nation, New Jersey must take the lead in creating a state that is welcoming for all. This means protecting the rights and well-being of immigrants and all New Jerseyans by drawing a clear line between federal immigration enforcement and our state and local government agencies, while also ensuring that resources are used to support and empower communities, not tear them apart.  

Earlier this year, following advocacy from the ACLU-NJ and partners, lawmakers passed the Temporary Workers Bill of Rights (S511/A1474) to provide labor protections for thousands of essential temporary workers across New Jersey. Signing this bill into law was an important victory, but there is must more to be done. 

In December 2023, following years of support from the ACLU-NJ and partners from across the state, the NJ Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights Act (S723/A822) which extends new rights — including protections on privacy, wages, and working conditions — to a bevy of domestic workers, including those who provide child care, housekeeping, or in-home caretaking, among others.

Even though important pieces of legislation to expand language access and codify the separation between state and federal immigration enforcement have been introduced, lawmakers have not moved the bills forward.   

The ACLU-NJ continues to call on lawmakers to pass the Values Act – a bill that will allow New Jerseyans to seek protection and support from state and local agencies without fear of deportation – as well as legislation to increase language access at government agencies across the state. Join us by contacting your lawmakers today and urge them to pass the Values Act, an important step toward making New Jersey truly fair and welcoming for all. 

How you can help expand and protect civil rights and liberties in 2024 

We’re heading into 2024 hopeful that together we can achieve progress that makes for a more perfect New Jersey. We’re going to keep working to make our state a national leader on civil rights and civil liberties by taking action on key issues as we begin the new year – join us and contact your lawmakers today.