About Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute
The mission of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute is to bring the United States into compliance with existing human rights and peace law. These human rights include the right to housing, a living income, education, due process of law, freedom of speech, and to be free from systemic racism, classism, homophobia, sexism, abelism, and other forms of discrimination.
Born out of activist movements of the 1930s and 1960s, MCLI advocates in alliance with communities directly experiencing human rights violations. MCLI also provides information and technical assistance to concerned lawyers, activists, legislators, judges, government officials, students, media, and professors on how to use little known existing law for human rights and peace. MCLI also acts as a watchdog for human rights and reports on violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights treaties by the United States government and encourages similar reporting by non-governmental organizations and local governments in an effort to carve new paths for holding the government accountable and challenging human rights violations.
MCLI is named for Alexander Meiklejohn, educator and political philosopher, who eloquently championed the First Amendment during the Cold Warattacks of the 1950’s. Founded in 1965, the Institute has grown from the work of its founder, Ann Fagan Ginger, together with a creative staff, dedicated board, interns, volunteers and financially sustaining contributors.
MCLI is an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt California corporation with a diverse board of directors and advisory board from the legal, labor, academic and business communities.
MCLI has helped over 400 law students and college interns learn to use human rights law, peace law and the UN Charter in addition to the Bill of Rights.
The Institute also provides Continuing Legal Education programs for lawyers and legal workers, publishes books and a quarterly newsletter, maintains a web-page, provides informative presentations on how to use international human rights law on U.S. issues, and answers queries from lawyers, historians, and people in need.
MCLI pioneered the movement to enforce three international human rights treaties signed and ratified into U.S. law in the early 1990s. The Institute publicizes and promotes the treaty texts, reports on U.S. implementation and violations of the treaties, and cases won using the treaties in U.S. courts. MCLI works with other organizations to convince local governments to begin implementing the treaties by filing reports on successes and failures to the U.N. Committees administering the treaties. In 2007, this work helped make Berkeley, California the first local government in the U.S. to file such reports.
MCLI’s noteworthy archival collections of briefs, transcripts and pleadings on due process, civil liberties, civil rights and international law cases are accessible to the public at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, University of Michigan’s Labadie Collection, and San Francisco State University’s Labor Archive.