Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

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Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Lawyers Committee logo.jpg
Founded1963
TypeNonpartisan
FocusCivil rights and voting rights
Location
Area served
United States
Members
220
Key people
Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director
Websitewww.lawyerscommittee.org Edit this at Wikidata

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, or simply the Lawyers' Committee, is a civil rights organization founded in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy. Its mission is to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law by enlisting the leadership of the private bar.[1] While the Lawyers’ Committee works to stop all civil rights violations, the majority of its work targets the inequities that confront African Americans and other minorities.[2]

When the Lawyers’ Committee was created, its existence was a major change in how the bar and how local and state judiciaries were able to help oppressed racial minorities during the civil rights movement.[3] The organization has assisted with some major civil rights advancements over the years, including significant amendments to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were made in 1982; it has also had substantial impact to civil rights legislation, including Executive Order 11246—preventing employers from discriminating based on race—and a number of voting rights cases. Since its creation, the Lawyers’ Committee has served as an expert on civil rights matters, often testifying before Congress and issuing public statements on pressing civil rights challenges.[4]

There are eight local affiliates of the Lawyers’ Committee: Boston, Massachusetts (created in 1968);[5] Chicago, Illinois (created in 1969);[6] Denver, Colorado (created in 1978);[7] Jackson, Mississippi (created in 1965);[8] Los Angeles, California (created in 1970);[9] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (created in 1969);[10] San Francisco, California (created in 1968);[11] and the District of Columbia (created in 1968).[12] Each affiliate is independently funded and governed, and together with the national Lawyers’ Committee, they work on both national and state policy issues.[13]


History[edit]

During a June 21, 1963, meeting at the White House, in the midst of the American civil rights movement, President John F. Kennedy suggested the formation of a group of lawyers to counter and reduce racial tensions by way of volunteer citizen actions.[14] On July 10, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights under Law was publicly announced. The first co-chairs of the Committee were two well-known figures in the civil rights and legal fields, Bernard Segal and Harrison Tweed.[15] Over a hundred lawyers volunteered to serve in the organization, with both white and black attorneys being represented. Membership also included five past presidents of the American Bar Association and four members of its board, as well as twelve current presidents of state bar associations, and officials from the NAACP and its legal defense fund.[15] On August 9, 1963, the group officially registered as a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.[14] Its first executive director, David Stahl, was named in December 1963.[16]

The group's first goal was to counter legal efforts to preserve segregation in Mississippi.[14] The Mississippi office of the organization opened on June 14, 1965, with a mission of getting the bar to take on the professional responsibility for leading the American civil rights movement and providing legal services where they would otherwise be unavailable.[17]

Projects[edit]

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is structured around a number of projects that it operates on an ongoing basis:

  • The Criminal Justice Project[18]
  • The Economic Justice Project[19]
  • The Educational Opportunities Project[20]
  • The Election Protection coalition[21]
  • The Fair Housing and Community Development Project[22]
  • The Special Litigation and Advocacy Project[23]
  • The Stop Hate Project[24]
  • The Voting Rights Project[25]

Notable cases[edit]

Voting Rights[edit]

Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law v. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity[26]

Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, Inc. et al v. Kemp[27]

In October 2018, the Lawyers’ Committee and its partners filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Brian Kemp over the state of Georgia’s “exact match” policy. The suit alleged that the policy violates the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Education[edit]

The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. Maryland Higher Education Commission[28]

Beginning in 2000, Maryland failed to meet agreements with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Lawyers’ Committee and partners sued, alleging that Maryland has failed to dismantle the vestiges of segregation from its prior de jure system of higher education.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College et al[29]

The Lawyers’ Committee joined this lawsuit with an amicus brief in support of Harvard’s admissions process. The lawsuit was intended to dismantle affirmative action, and the Lawyers’ Committee’s clients—a group of diverse current, former, and potential students of Harvard—were granted special status to testify in court.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina, et al[30]

The Lawyers’ Committee joined this other anti-affirmative action lawsuit with an amicus brief in support of UNC’s admissions process.

Hate Crimes[edit]

Taylor Dumpson v. Brian Andrew Ade et al[31]

The Lawyers’ Committee represented Taylor Dumpson, an American University student who was targeted in a hate crime on her first day in office as the university’s first ever female, African-American student body president.

Census[edit]

City of San Jose v. Ross[32]

The Lawyers’ Committee and partners filed a lawsuit to prevent Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, as experts believe such a question would chill responses and lower crucial funding.

Criminal Justice[edit]

Dade et al v. Sherwood Arkansas, City of et al[33]

The Lawyers’ Committee, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit on behalf of five residents of Sherwood, Arkansas, to end a bad checks court system that imprisoned people for writing “hot checks.”

Joseph Allen et al v. John Bel Edwards et al[34]

The Lawyers’ Committee and partners filed a lawsuit to fix the Louisiana court system that was denying poor people their constitutional right to counsel.

Notable Alumni[edit]

John F. Kennedy

Gay McDougall

Anita Earls

Jacqueline A. Berrien

Cornell William Brooks

Milan C. Miskovsky

James Robertson

David S. Tatel

Barbara Arnwine

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mission," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  2. ^ Michelle D. Bernard, "Moving America Toward Justice: The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law." The Donning Company Publishers: 2013, p. 11
  3. ^ Michelle D. Bernard, "Moving America Toward Justice: The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law." The Donning Company Publishers: 2013, p. 26
  4. ^ Michelle D. Bernard, "Moving America Toward Justice: The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law." The Donning Company Publishers: 2013, p. 44
  5. ^ "Lawyers for Civil Rights". lawyersforcivilrights.org. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  6. ^ "Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights". Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  7. ^ "Colorado Lawyers Committee". Colorado Lawyers Committee. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  8. ^ "Homepage Slideshow | Mississippi Center for Justice". www.mscenterforjustice.org. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  9. ^ "Public Counsel - power of pro bono law for children, families, veterans, students, immigrants, nonprofits and small businesses". www.publiccounsel.org. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  10. ^ "The Public Interest Law Center". www.pubintlaw.org. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  11. ^ "Home". Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  12. ^ "The Washington Lawyers' Committee – For Civil Rights and Urban Affairs". Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  13. ^ "Local affiliates," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  14. ^ a b c "Lawyers Asked to Aid Integration", Associated Press, Lakeland Ledger, August 14, 1963, p. 3.
  15. ^ a b Weart, William G. "100 Lawyers Join New Rights Group", The New York Times, July 11, 1963, p. 17.
  16. ^ "Ex-State Official Joins Lawyers' Rights Panel", Associated Press, The New York Times, December 24, 1963.
  17. ^ Berl Bernhard, Executive Director, LCCR, "Report on the Committee Office in the South", Aug. 7 through Oct. 6, 1965, Jackson Mississippi File, Records of the LCCR, Washington, D.C.
  18. ^ "Criminal Justice Project," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  19. ^ "Economic Justice Project," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  20. ^ "Educational Opportunities Project," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  21. ^ "Election Protection," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  22. ^ "Fair Housing and Community Development Project," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  23. ^ "Special Litigation and Advocacy Project," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  24. ^ "Stop Hate Project," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  25. ^ "Voting Rights Project," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  26. ^ Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law v. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (1:17-cv-01354-CKK)
  27. ^ Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, Inc. et al v. Kemp (1:18-cv-04727)
  28. ^ The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, Inc., et al v. Maryland Higher Education Commission et al (1:06-cv-02773)
  29. ^ Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College et al (1:2014cv14176)
  30. ^ Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina, et al (1:2014cv00954)
  31. ^ Taylor Dumpson v. Brian Andrew Ade et al (1:18-cv-01011)
  32. ^ City of San Jose v. Ross (5:18-cv-02279)
  33. ^ Dade et al v. Sherwood Arkansas, City of et al (4:16-cv-00602)
  34. ^ Joseph Allen et al v. John Bel Edwards et al (2017 CW 1581)

External links[edit]