NEWARK – The ACLU of New Jersey mourns the loss of U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, who stood out as a relentless champion of civil liberties throughout his four decades in Congress. New Jersey has lost a leader defined by his compassion, integrity and concern for society’s most vulnerable.
Lautenberg championed civil rights throughout his career, from authoring the Ryan White Care Act, enacted in 1990, to leading the charge to reverse the Peace Corps’ policy of denying women coverage of abortion services just this April. He challenged the assault on civil liberties following the Sept. 11 attacks while preserving funding to defend our ports, recognizing that Americans can be both safe and free. He voted to preserve habeas corpus in Guantanamo Bay, to require reports from CIA interrogators, and to prohibit government wiretaps undertaken without a warrant.
“Sen. Lautenberg constantly made New Jersey proud, not only for standing up for the rights of Americans, but often for leading the charge to preserve those rights,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer. “He led with a personal imperative to serve the people who elected him, and his tenacity in doing the right thing on their behalf only sharpened over the years. He never lost sight of where he came from, and he never lost his fire for righting an injustice. Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s tireless fight to strengthen our freedoms has made our country, and New Jersey, a better place for all who live here.”
“Our country lost a true civil liberties titan today,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “From his service during World War II to his final months in the Senate, Sen. Lautenberg understood the importance of fighting for the rights of every American. He was a champion for religious liberty and leaves behind a legacy of fighting for women’s rights and reproductive freedom. We will sorely miss his voice and passion.”