For Immediate Release
David Niose, Humanist Legal Society Executive Director
(Washington, D.C., July 19, 2018) With a special sold-out event, featuring prominent speakers this afternoon at the National Press Club, a new organization aiming to link humanist lawyers and other legal professionals across the nation will be publicly launching. By serving as a vehicle for social networking, issue advocacy, and debate and development of ideas, the new Humanist Legal Society seeks to promote humanist values in the law and throughout society. The Press Club event will feature a panel discussing how the changing Supreme Court is expected to impact progressive activism.
The Humanist Legal Society’s aim is to provide a way for like-minded legal professionals—whether identifying as humanist, secular, atheist, agnostic, or something similar—to unite in advocating for principles consistent with the organization’s mission statement: the protection of civil liberties, strict separation of religion and government, legislation and public policies informed by sound scientific evidence, ethics in government and law enforcement, and respect for the diversity of individuals.
“Many lawyers approach the world and the law from a humanist standpoint, but there is a need for them to have a way of organizing professionally as a group,” said the Society’s president, David Codell, a nationally recognized constitutional litigator who has served as counsel in many major cases involving LGBT rights. “The Humanist Legal Society will give humanist lawyers solidarity and resources that will make a difference.”
The Humanist Legal Society opens its membership to all lawyers, judges, other legal professionals, and law students nationwide who are sympathetic to its mission. Although plans are in the works to establish local chapters in major cities and at law schools, chapter membership is not required to join the national group. Membership information and more can be found at the group’s website www.humanistlegalsociety.org.
Today’s event will be a panel discussion entitled “The Supreme Court After Kennedy: What’s Next for LGBT and Women’s Rights.” It will feature Codell with two prominent advocates, Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Maya Rupert, policy director of the Center for Reproductive Rights. Plans are also in the works for a second event at the University of Pennsylvania in September. That event will feature prominent Establishment Clause scholar and lawyer Marci Hamilton. More information about that event will be provided in the near future.
“We believe humanist lawyers, given a stronger platform, can help advance the forward-looking values that are central to humanism—reason, empathy, and tolerance, for example—which too often have been sadly lacking in public discourse and policymaking,” said Caroline Mala Corbin, the Society’s vice president and a professor of constitutional law at the University of Miami School of Law.
The Humanist Legal Society will function as an educational nonprofit organization. Though incorporated independently, it operates as an adjunct of the American Humanist Association, which has been the flagship organization for humanism in the United States since 1941.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.