The ACLU-Pa.’s Reggie Shuford is leaving | Thursday Morning Coffee

The veteran civil rights attorney is bound for a new job in his home state of North Carolina

By: - December 22, 2022 7:12 am
Reggie Shuford (Source: ACLU-PA).

Reggie Shuford (Source: ACLU-PA).

(*This story was updated at 8:25 a.m. on Thursday, 12/21/22 to clarify information around an email that Reggie Shuford sent to the ACLU’s members and supporters about his decision to step down.)

After more than a decade on the frontlines of some of the state’s preeminent civil liberties and political battles, Reggie Shuford, the executive director of the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, will leave his job on Jan. 6.

Starting in mid-February, Shuford, a North Carolina native, will take the reins of the progressive nonprofit North Carolina Justice Center, where he said he’s looking forward to “[joining] the fight for racial, economic, and social justice.”

Full disclosure: The North Carolina Justice Center currently is the parent organization of NC Policy Watch, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

*Shuford informed the ACLU’s Pennsylvania members and supporters of his decision in a Dec. 16 email, writing that he was “immensely proud of everything we’ve accomplished together” since he became the group’s executive director in September 2011.

“We weathered the Trump administration and all of the threats to civil liberties and democracy it brought. We achieved marriage equality in [Pennsylvania] a year before it was achieved nationwide,” Shuford wrote.

“We defeated a restrictive voter identification requirement. We’ve been to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court countless times and even been to the U.S. Supreme Court twice, winning a landmark students’ speech case in 2021,” he continued.

In an email to the Capital-StarACLU-PA spokesperson Andy Hoover noted that, under Shuford’s leadership, the civil rights group was “part of efforts to narrow the reach of the criminal legal system, fighting the reinstatement of mandatory minimum sentencing, advocating for policies that led to a 20 percent reduction in the state prison system.”

Under Shuford, the ACLU-PA laid “the groundwork for Gov. Tom Wolf’s moratorium on executions, which still stands today. In fact, Reggie served on the legislative study commission whose work the governor cited in implementing the moratorium.”

(Image via The Philadelphia Gay News)

In a statement, the co-chair of the North Carolina group’s board, Patricia Timmons-Goodson, said the organization was “confident that the NC Justice Center’s next chapter, under the leadership of Reggie Shuford, will further strengthen our state.”

“For 25 years, the NC Justice Center has served the people of North Carolina in an effort to improve the lives of its most vulnerable citizens,” Timmons-Goodson said. “North Carolina is a better place to live because of our work.”

Before joining the ACLUShuford was the director of law and policy at the Equal Justice Society, a national group working to “[transform] the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science, and the arts,” according to its website.

From 1995-2010, Shuford was the senior staff counsel in the national ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, where he “helped to pioneer legal challenges to racial profiling practices nationwide,” according to his official biography.

He also served as the ACLU’s chief litigator in challenges to racial profiling, where he led national litigation efforts and consulting with ACLU state affiliates and others in cases of “driving while black or brown,” airport profiling, and profiling related to the war on terror.

Shuford is a graduate of the University of North Carolina’s School of Law. In 2009, he received the Law School’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

In his email to ACLU-PA staff, Shuford said he was leaving “confident that the ACLU of Pennsylvania is stronger than ever and that my successor will be well-positioned to lead this organization forward.

“Finally, I’m grateful to you for supporting the ACLU of Pennsylvania. Your belief in what we do means the world to me. And your support means that this work will continue under new leadership,” Shuford wrote.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.