Micah Kubic, the new executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, was in Hays on Friday evening.
He listed voting rights, racial justice, lesbian-gay rights, free speech, privacy, reproductive rights, criminal justice, immigration and first amendment rights as issues at the forefront.
“We exist to defend constitutional rights and to protect and strengthen those rights,” he said. “Kansas is on the front line of every single civil liberties battle raging in the U.S.
“We have our work cut out for us on all of those issues. But the good news is that we are being pretty successful on all of those issues given a political environment that is not always entirely friendly. Things are going very well. But the fight for our rights is a grinding daily struggle, and nowhere in the country is that more true than right here in Kansas.”
The nationwide campaign to undermine voting rights that literally came from the blood and sacrifice of civil rights workers in the 1960s is a main concern, he said. Kubic also mentioned the law that disallowed discrimination against state workers who were lesbian or gay that was recently rescinded by Gov. Sam Brownback.
“It is legal for a state worker to be punished on the job or fired just for being gay,” the director said.
The ACLU focuses on litigation, which comes through individual complaints, advocacy with legislation and public education.
They are conducting a statewide tour and will visit 12 communities this summer to engage with members at the grassroots level to find out what civil liberty concerns they have, and build the civil liberties movement.
The Kansas ACLU has a dedicated legal intake line with a staff lawyer whose job it is to represent people. The ACLU is a nonprofit agency governed by a board of directors and has been in existence for 95 years.
“There is no better way to protect my fellow Americans than my support of the ACLU,” said Warren Shaffer, who attended the event. However, “I don’t agree with everything they support.
“When it comes down to defending the constitution, they are No. 1.”
Kubic started at the ACLU five months ago.
“I love the work,” he said. “There is a lot to do, and it’s exciting that we’re challenged in a lot of ways. We are actually winning.”
Kubic grew up in Kansas City and went to George Washington University for an undergraduate degree. He went to Howard University for graduate school. He has a PhD in political science with a concentration in African-American politics.
He has worked as a legislative director for a member of the Kansas City Council LISC, a group that does neighborhood revitalization, a workforce investment agency, teaching and then to the ACLU.