Civil Rights Law Section
Approved by the WSBA Board of Governors in December 2008, the Civil Rights Law Section invites you to become a member. Section membership is open to any Active member of the WSBA, as well as specially admitted members such as emeritus, military, or foreign house counsel. Any other interested person may become a non-voting subscriber of the Section upon payment of annual dues.
The Civil Rights Law Section sponsors CLEs on civil rights law and provides a forum for activities with civil rights organizations throughout the state. The Section focuses on the practice and policy of civil rights law, which includes the rights of racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual-orientation minorities; immigrants; those with a mental or physical disability; and the impoverished; as well as issues regarding freedom of speech; freedom from state-promulgated religion; and privacy rights.
The Section developed out of the WSBA Civil Rights Committee, which had been a standing committee since the Bar was formed in 1933.
On the Passing of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Read the statement here by Molly Matter, Chair (2019-2020).
Latest Issue of the Civil Rights Law Section Newsletter
Read the Summer/Fall 2020 Issue here
Civil Rights Section Award Reception
The 2020 Civies Awards were presented at a remotely-held reception and concert with Afro-Folk singer songwriter Naomi Wachira, to honor 2019 and 2020 recipients. View the ceremony below.
Executive Committee Statement
Nationwide Black Lives Matter Protests and the Disparate Impact of COVID-19 on Health, Safety, and Constitutional Rights
As legal professionals and Executive Committee members of the Civil Rights Law Section, it is our responsibility to inform and educate our members and the general public on pressing civil rights issues. This letter was written in response to issues raised by the national Black Lives Matter movement to uphold and enforce the United States Constitution. We believe that our letter identifies those who have been most impacted by injustice and acknowledges our responsibilities as legal professionals to respond to the recent events that have undermined the administration of justice, namely the 1st, 4th, 14th and 15th Amendments. We consider the Washington Supreme Court’s June 4, 2020 letter to be in the same spirit.
Read the Executive Committee letter here.
Honoring a Legacy
Civil Rights Law Section Honors the Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The mission of the Civil Rights Law Section is to educate and advocate for civil liberties and equal rights in the context of the legal issues of Washington state residents.
Read the 2020 statement here.
WSBA Civil Rights Law Section Annual Awards
Each year, the Civil Rights Law Section recognizes individuals or organizations who have made a notable contribution to the cause of civil rights. Recipients are persons or entities who have championed the cause of equality for impoverished, under-served, minority or disabled populations in Washington state. Examples of exemplary work in this area would include, but are not limited to, those who regularly fight on local or state government levels for expansion or defense of civil rights protections, or who represent or advocate on behalf of people or issues concerning civil rights or basic human rights.
Distinguished Service Award
Recipients are attorneys who have demonstrated throughout their career perseverance and commitment to the expansion or defense of civil rights protections at the local, state or national level.
Keep of the Flame Award
Recipients are legal professionals or legal organizations whose work carries forward civil rights protection, keeping the flame alive of past civil rights movements for future generations. Nominees are legal professionals or legal organizations whose demonstrated commitment to protecting and advancing civil rights brings hope to members of the Civil Rights Law Section that our futures are in good hands.
The Civil Rights Law Section Executive Committee created this award in 2020 to encourage and honor those in the first half of their careers who use the tools of the legal profession toward societal healing and justice. The first person to receive this award will be honored at the Civil Rights Law Section's Annual Membership Meeting and Reception in September 2020.
Frances B. North Civic Leader Award
Recipients are attorneys, individuals or organizations that represent or advocate on behalf of people or legal issues regarding civil rights, civil liberties, or basic human rights such as freedom from discrimination, protection from abuse, or obtaining essential human services such as food, healthcare and shelter.
The Civil Rights Law Section renamed its Civic Leader Award in 2019 to honor the life of Frances B. North (1919-2017), a Seattle civic leader known for her role in uniting the business sector, public schools, and city government to end segregation. Frances North was the first African American woman allowed to work on the sales floor of Bests/Nordstrom. Frances brought friends, relations, and colleagues of diverse economic, cultural, religious and ancestral backgrounds together to fight for civil rights and to celebrate in style. We honor those who carry her spirit and fortitude with this award.
Distinguished Service Award: Lembhard "Lem" Howell, Esq.
Civic Leader Award: Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington
Civic Leader Award: Washington United for Marriage
|Left to right Tracy Flood, former WSBA Board of Governors member and founding Chair of the Civil Rights Law Section; Lem Howell, Esq., 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipient; Alec Stephens, Civil Rights Law Section Chair; Kathleen Taylor, 2014 Civic Leader Award recipient and Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington|
Archived issues are available to section members upon request. To request an issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chair: Tobin Klusty
Chair-Elect: Laura Sierra
Secretary: Cameron Sheldon
Treasurer: Bridget Bourgette Shaw
Immediate Past Chair: Molly Matter
Young Lawyer Liaison: Stephan Yhann (2020-2021)
BOG Liaison*: TBD
The WSBA Civil Rights Law Section Executive Committee generally conducts meetings noon–1:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the WSBA offices and via teleconference. Please contact committee member for specific details on their upcoming meeting dates and locations.