|Mission||The Institute uses a combination of public education, community organizing, and legal action to bring about structural change to address the issues that threaten our human family.|
|Location||Santa Cruz, California|
The Romero Institute is a nonprofit law and public policy center in Santa Cruz, California.
Beginnings in the Christic Institute
The Christic Institute was a public interest law firm founded in 1980 by Daniel Sheehan, his wife Sara Nelson, and their partner, William J. Davis, a Jesuit priest. They had gained a win in the Silkwood case and wanted to continue public interest law.
Christic represented victims of the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island. In 1985 they filed a civil suit for damages against KKK and American Nazi Party members who had killed civil rights demonstrators in the 1979 Greensboro Massacre. In litigation by the state in a criminal trial and the federal government under civil rights law, all defendants had been acquitted by all-white juries. In addition, the Institute had accused local police and Federal agents of knowing of the potential for violent confrontation and failing to protect the marchers. The Institute defended Catholic workers providing sanctuary to Salvadoran refugees (American Sanctuary Movement).
The Institute was based in Washington, D.C., with offices in several other major U.S. cities. The Institute received funding from a nationwide network of grass-roots donors, as well as organizations like the New World Foundation.
In 1988, the Christic Institute was ordered to pay $955,000 in attorneys fees and $79,500 in court costs as the result of a $24 million lawsuit that was deemed to be frivolous by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The ruling was subsequently upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States. In addition, the Institute lost its non-profit status, as the IRS ruled that its suit had been politically motivated.
In the wake of this loss, Daniel Sheehan and Sara Nelson regrouped. In 1992 they became the leaders of the Christic Institute's successor organization, the Romero Institute.
The Worldview Project is a public interest research enterprise dedicated to the study of human worldviews to demonstrate the ways in which each worldview contributes positively to the world, as well as to promote tolerance and cooperation among those who hold differing views. Today, the Worldview Project has identified a total of eight human worldviews from which flow our economic, political, scientific, and religious and all manner of human systems. The Romero Institute is working to publish a comprehensive examination of these worldviews.
Ascension Sounds is a nonprofit project that provides local youth with a vibrant artistic space as well as the equipment, instruction, and opportunity to express themselves in a positive way. The Institute provides a classroom and recording studio, enabling the project to provide free musical training to high school youth in Santa Cruz, California, and help offset recent cuts to arts programs in California schools.
U.C. Santa Cruz Course on Justice
Daniel Sheehan taught a college-level course at the University of California at Santa Cruz on social justice entitled "The Trajectory of Justice: Eight Cases that Changed America." The course examines foundational cases between 1970 and 2000: Eisenstadt v. Baird (1970), Pentagon Papers Case (1971), In re Pappas (1972), U.S. v. James W. McCord, Jr. (1973), Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp. (1975), Greensboro Massacre (Waller v. Butkovich) (1985), American Sanctuary Movement Case (U.S. v. Stacey Lynn Merkt, et al.) (1984) and Avirgan v. Hull and the Iran-Contra Affair (1986).
- "Suit Alleging Plot by Contras, CIA Dismissed : Arms-Drug Smuggling, Conspiracy Charges Unproven, Judge Says". Los Angeles Times. AP. June 24, 1988. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
- Henderson, Greg (January 13, 1992). "Court lets stand $1 million award against Christic Institute". UPI. UPI. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
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- Lakota People's Law Project website