“The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.” -- President John F. Kennedy
Welcome to the home page of the Committee
on Civil Rights for the New York State Bar Association. The term "civil rights"
means many different things to many people. To some, the term evokes the epic
struggle of the latter half of the 20th century for racial and gender equality,
a struggle which still continues today. To others, it calls to mind the right
of the individual to be free from arbitrary Government restraint on one's
liberty and the exercise of freedoms held dear, such as the freedom of speech,
assembly and religion. Still others see "civil rights" as covering the rights
chiseled into local, state and federal laws preventing discrimination in
housing, in school and at the work place. “Civil rights” fall under a broad
umbrella of due process and equal protection guarantees found in our
Constitution and laws. The understanding of a "civil right" has evolved and
continues to evolve with the forward progress of our national conversation in
the American experiment.
The Committee on Civil Rights was founded in 1952 and over the years has
worked on a broad range of issues affecting the public and legal profession in
New York. Most recently, the Committee has been active on issues of privacy and
national security, Executive Detention and due process, the rights of
immigrants, and marriage equality. The Committee’s participation on these
various fronts takes many forms, from sponsoring programs to spark informed
debate, to authoring encyclopedic reports on signal issues of the day, to
honoring those who have done the most in our community to bend the long arc of
history toward justice. If you want to learn more about the Committee's work in
general, please click on the tabs on the left of this web page. If you would
like to learn more about the Committee's work on habeas corpus and Guantanamo in
particular, access the Committee’s blog.
Thank you for visiting the Committee’s website and we hope that you find it
informative and maybe even a little inspirational. Check back often for
informative updates to the website and timely blog postings.
2015 Haywood Burns Memorial Award
The Haywood Burns Memorial Award is presented each year by the Committee on Civil Rights during the Annual Meeting of the New York State Bar Association in January. Nominees must be an individual, not necessarily a lawyer, who has contributed to New York State in a manner that reflects Dean Burns’ commitment to the struggle for justice and the qualities that made him an outstanding advocate for civil rights and the empowerment of the powerless.
PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THE CALL FOR NOMINATIONS FORM
ANNUAL MEETING 2015 - Thursday, January 29
Meeting 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Committee on Civil Rights and Diversity and Inclusion
“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”: Recent tragic deaths involving Eric Garner and Michael Brown haunt us. The intersection of race and excessive police force is critical to our society. Lawyers have a role in governing use of force by law enforcement, especially with respect to racial minorities. Lawyers help define and train on policies for use of force and on the impact of implicit bias on law enforcement. We prosecute and defend criminal charges with respect to use of force by police. We seek retribution from or defend law enforcement agencies for civil rights violations with respect to excessive police force. This panel will examine the critical role lawyers and racial justice activists play in ensuring that use of force by police is evenhanded and free from racial bias.