There is exciting news on campus.  On January 21st the SBA approved the American Civil Liberties Union of Whittier Law School as a new student organization.  We have formed the club to raise scholarship about civil liberties, to provide opportunities for students to extern and network with local affiliate and partnering law firm attorneys, and to learn about the rich history of the ACLU in the American civil rights movements.

            The ACLU defends and preserves the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.  These rights include: First Amendment rights; the right to equal protection under the law; the right to due process; and the right to privacy.

            The ACLU also works to extend rights to populations that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color, women, LGBT persons, prisoners, and persons with disabilities.

            The ACLU of Southern California in Los Angeles is the club’s local affiliate.  We will also partner with the Orange County office in Orange.  Some of the ACLU/SC’s primary areas of action are criminal justice, educational equality, freedom of speech, immigrant rights, jails project, LGBT equality and religious liberty.

            There are two Faculty Advisers to the club:  Professors Neil Cogan and Mary Ellen Gale.  Professor Cogan, while previously teaching at Southern Methodist University, for 20 years litigated dozens of freedom of speech and free exercise of religion cases.  He also served as a scholar in residence at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in 1980.  “Schools should have an organization that promotes careers in civil rights in the government or private sector,” Professor Cogan said.  “There is a need for law graduates to support and defend people’s constitutional rights.”  Professor Gale has been affiliated with the ACLU/SC and on the ACLU National Board of Directors for more than 20 years.  Noting the changes in civil rights over the past decades, Professor Gale said that civil liberties are “valuable now more than ever.  Since September 11th, there has been a rush to justice.  There are tensions between liberty and security.  We have to remind ourselves that civil liberties are basic values.”

            The first general meeting of the ACLU of WLS will be February 15th at 12:30.  We will then discuss forthcoming events.  The first event will include discussion of the ACLU/SC’s lawsuit against the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for forcing a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf at a pre-detention facility in violation of her right to religious freedom.

            We hope you’ll join the ACLU of WLS on its journey.

Nancy Strogoff, ACLU of WLS President –


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