“We get more than 1,000 requests a month for assistance, more than 10,000 in any given year.” — ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Fran Quigley
The ACLU of Indiana could close its doors forever if the constitutional and civil rights of all citizens were protected and enforced by the law itself. But it’s not a perfect world, and politicians have been known to favor agendas other than that of true democracy.
In a year that has seen Indiana state Sen. Patricia Miller introduce a bill that would require marriage as a condition for parenting; Attorney General Steve Carter attempt to seize the medical records of Planned Parenthood patients without evidence of any crime being committed; Marion County Superior Court Civil Judge Cale Bradford forbid divorced parents from exposing their child to “non-mainstream” religions; and Speaker of the House Brian Bosma advocate for proselytizing Christian prayers as the state-approved faith of the Statehouse, the ACLU of Indiana has had more than enough work to keep its small but dedicated staff working overtime.
“We get more than 1,000 requests a month for assistance, more than 10,000 in any given year,” says ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Fran Quigley, “and we do the best we can to go through those and find the cases we can actually take on. Generally that’s about 40 cases at any given time.”
Those cases fall to Legal Director Ken Falk, an adjunct professor at the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, who has litigated cases at every level of the judicial system, up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court. Falk, who came to the ACLU in 1996 after nearly two decades of representing low-income clients at Legal Services Organization of Indianapolis, leads a legal team at the ACLU of Indiana that accepts one of the most important and ambitious dockets in the country.
At the heart of what the ACLU of Indiana does is solve problems by educating the public and elected representatives about violations to the state and federal constitutions. Whether they are filing a high profile lawsuit, or holding public forums to educate people on constitutional principles, the goal is always the same: to protect civil liberties and defend the human spirit — lofty and necessary goals, without which a democracy cannot exist.
— Laura McPhee