Blog & Op-Eds, Blog RSS feed
BLOG: While certain displays might continue to offend some patrons’ sensibilities, it should be clear now that the library has created a public forum. read more »
By Charlie Schmidt
ACLU-VA Public Policy Associate
I am honored to be working for the ACLU of Virginia as its new Public Policy Associate.
I have nearly 20 years of experience at lobbying, advocacy and community organizing in Virginia. I have worked on campaigns addressing prosecutorial misconduct, citizen control of police review boards, ban the box and proper hiring practice for people with criminal records, as well as education, immigration and environmental justice issues.
Just prior to joining the ACLU of Virginia, I ran my own law practice which provided sliding-scale legal services to marginalized populations of race, class and gender minorities. I focused on serving the needs of my individual clients while identifying and advocating for larger social justice concerns within the community.
I recently brought a petition for review against the Richmond Public School Board for its arbitrary and capricious rezoning of elementary schools. With the help of a broad coalition of parents, teachers and community activists, I was able to advance my client’s case past motions to dismiss. This was a victory in and of itself given the 30-day statute of limitations, high standard of review and presumption by the courts of the validity of an elected board’s actions. The School Board delayed the case for two years and during that time my client’s daughter began to regress in her studies and grades at her newly zoned school. When my client pulled her daughter out of Richmond Public Schools, the Board jumped at the chance to ask the court to dismiss the suit for lack of standing, which it did. It is unfortunate that we didn’t get a chance to argue the merits of the case.
Many of my clients have been small nonprofits and social advocacy groups addressing issues in the community relating to civil rights, education, immigration and police brutality. This afforded me unique opportunities to build many community relations. I hope to use these relationships to help build the ranks of advocates and advance the causes that are important to the ACLU of Virginia.
To help offset the costs of a sliding-scale practice, I was also an adjunct professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University. There I taught classes on civil rights, political theory and gender issues in the law. In class I would help students understand the deeper political context of seminal court cases. Quite often the arguments in cases revolve around civil liberties versus the greater good of society; not just the viewpoints of conservative or liberal judges. It is a political conflict that is written into our Constitution and one that the ACLU of Virginia defends each day.
I am excited to put theory to practice as the new Public Policy Associate.
GUEST BLOG: We must keep Virginia open for business for all. read more »
BLOG: Why do so many state lawmakers need a lesson in Civics 101? They seem to be ready to use any tactic, no matter how far-fetched, to punish Planned Parenthood for providing legal abortion services to women. read more »
POSITION: It is unconstitutional to deny government contracts based on speech because that action amounts to an attempt to suppress free speech. read more »
GUEST BLOG: The onslaught of proposals to enshrine anti-gay bias in our laws is a reaction to this simple truth and highlights the darkness that grips some Virginians. read more »
GUEST BLOG: Going to school every day is an act of courage by my daughter. There, she is required to use a separate bathroom, off of a closet. read more »
COALITION LETTER: SB 40 gives court clerks carte blanche to discriminate. read more »
GUEST BLOG: We don't want to infringe anyone's privacy. We just want our own to be respected. read more »
GAVIN GRIMM: "I am fighting this fight because no kid should have to think so hard about performing a basic and private function of being alive." read more »