As U.S. Supreme Court rulings eviscerate established civil rights, state-level advocacy is vital. An ACLU-NJ event looked at the big-picture civil rights landscape and the NJ Supreme Court.

As communities across the state and the country grapple with the U.S. Supreme Court’s devastating ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, advocates may turn to state courts to protect civil rights and civil liberties — and New Jersey’s highest court has been a leader in looking to the state Constitution as a separate and independent source for protecting the privacy and individual rights of residents. 

I had the privilege of joining my colleagues from the ACLU-NJ — along with longtime advocacy partners who have argued precedent-setting cases at the Court, as well as Ret. Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, now a partner at McCarter & English — at “Raising the Bar,” a virtual event on current civil rights cases at the New Jersey Supreme Court, hosted by the ACLU-NJ on June 28.

Watch the event

For more than 50 years, the ACLU-NJ has deployed cutting-edge legal strategies in amicus briefs filed in state and federal courts. With the significant growth of our legal team in the last 12 years, that work has expanded. ACLU-NJ litigators file briefs and argue in dozens of cases each year. Last year, our attorneys argued in a third of the cases the New Jersey Supreme Court’s accepted for consideration.

“Raising the Bar” examined some of the current issues before the Court and the strategy behind the ACLU-NJ’s participation as a friend of the court.

In opening remarks, Justice LaVecchia shared her thoughts on the significance of judicial independence and shared remarkable insight into the Dobbs decision and the role of the state’s judiciary in protecting residents from governmental overreach.

In a panel discussion, attorneys with deep civil rights experience who have litigated for the ACLU-NJ discussed cases that addressed pressing civil rights issues including: police accountability and transparency, abusive police stops, racial profiling, racial bias in jury selection, and extreme sentencing of youth. Don’t miss the insightful commentary from:

  • Catherine Weiss, Partner & Chair of the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest, Lowenstein Sandler (moderator)
  • CJ Griffin, Partner & Director of the Stein Public Interest Center, Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, and Vice President of the ACLU-NJ Board of Trustees
  • Lawrence S. Lustberg, Director of Commercial & Criminal Litigation and Director of the John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law, Gibbons P.C.
  • Alexander Shalom, Senior Supervising Attorney & Director of Supreme Court Advocacy, ACLU-NJ
  • Karen Thompson, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU-NJ

Watch the full event.