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Career Opportunity: Policy Counsel

Posted on in Uncategorized

Come join an organization with a 50-year history of fighting for the rights of underserved, marginalized populations.  The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) seeks experienced applicants for the newly created position of Policy Counsel to work out of our office in Raleigh.  Working under the direction and supervision of our Policy Director, the Policy Counsel will be responsible for advancing the proactive civil liberties agenda of the ACLU-NC at the state and local level, lobbying to defeat proposed legislation that threatens to undermine constitutional rights and individual liberty, and mobilizing coalition partners and community groups to achieve our objectives.  At no other time in our state’s history has this work been more vital.

The ACLU-NC is the state affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union.  Our mission is to preserve and expand the guarantees of individual liberty found in the U.S. Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution, and relevant federal and state civil rights laws.  These freedoms include: racial justice, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, criminal justice and drug law reform, women’s rights, reproductive justice, LGBT equality, free speech, religious liberty, due process, the right to privacy, and much more.  Founded in 1965, the North Carolina affiliate is a rapidly growing organization, and in just the past three years, the size of our statewide membership base has doubled to more than 12,000. 


  • Track, monitor, and analyze proposed legislation;
  • Lobby members of legislative bodies and their staff in support of ACLU-NC positions on pending legislation;
  • Conduct legal and policy research into civil liberties issues raised by proposed legislation at the state and local level and draft legal memoranda analyzing these issues;
  • Assist the Policy Director with the preparation of position papers, reports for the public, public records requests, internal reports for ACLU-NC staff and lay leaders, or other documents as necessary;
  • Assist the Policy Director in the drafting and preparation of proposed legislation or amendments preserving and advancing civil liberties;
  • Monitor the legislative calendar for civil liberties related legislation, committee meetings, opportunities to testify on pending legislation, and apprise the Policy Director of committee actions;
  • Represent the ACLU-NC in coalition meetings and community discussions;
  • Grant interviews to the media with regard to the civil liberties implications of proposed legislation or policy initiatives;
  • Participate in public education efforts, including making presentations to ACLU-NC chapters and other organizations or groups about civil liberties related legislation, the legislative process, or other ACLU-NC priorities;
  • Assist the Policy Director in identifying, cultivating and training individuals to become community leaders and media spokespeople on civil liberties related matters;
  • Assist in organizing events, trainings, or membership activities, such as lobby days, related to our legislative or policy goals;
  • Represent the ACLU-NC in a professional manner externally as well as within the organization;
  • Attend ACLU-NC and ACLU-NCLF functions, such as the annual membership meeting, the Frank Porter Graham Awards, quarterly Board meetings and other ACLU events. 
  • Perform other related duties as assigned by the Policy Director.


  • Strong preference for candidates who possess a J.D. and membership in good standing with the North Carolina Bar or admission to the North Carolina Bar within one year of hire;
  • Commitment to the mission and goals of the ACLU;
  • Demonstrated understanding of the legislative process, campaign strategy, and political strategic planning, preferably related to civil liberties, civil rights, or related social justice;
  • Demonstrated experience working effectively with legislators or policy makers from across the political spectrum and with groups and individuals from diverse backgrounds, including from across the political spectrum;
  • Excellent research and analytical skills and substantive knowledge and understanding of constitutional law and civil liberties issues;
  • Experience working in coalitions, including developing shared plans, coordinating external and internal communications, and understanding internal political dynamics among partner groups;
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills, including the ability to synthesize complex information for various audiences;
  • Ability to multitask, take initiative, think strategically, prioritize and complete assignments, including providing rapid analytical responses with meticulous attention to detail;
  • Ability to keep organized in a fast-paced environment, to manage several projects simultaneously, meet short deadlines, and to adjust to frequently changing demands;
  • Proven ability to work independently as well as to take direction and work collaboratively with a team;
  • A positive, confident, and professional presentation style;
  • Flexible hours and willingness to work evening and weekend hours, as directed by the Policy Director and required by the legislative schedule;
  • Some travel required, both in-state and out-of-state.


  • Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications.
  • Excellent benefits include: paid vacation and sick leave, health and dental insurance, life and disability insurance, 401(k) with employer matching funds, generous paid holidays.

How to apply

Applicants should submit a cover letter that includes salary expectations, resume, relevant writing sample (no more than 5 pages) written wholly or substantially by the applicant, and list of at least three professional references, including contact information for each to:


Getting It Dead Wrong for 30 Years

Posted on in Death Penalty
By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project

According to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Henry Lee McCollum deserved to die for the brutal rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie. There's just one problem, and a frequent one in death penalty cases: Henry Lee McCollum didn't do it.

Instead of tracking down the true killer, police and prosecutors went after Henry Lee McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown, two intellectually disabled and innocent teenagers. While his mother wept in the hallway, not allowed to see her son, officers interrogated McCollum for five hours, ultimately coercing him to sign a confession they had written. In a trial without forensic evidence and plagued by racial bias, these two half-brothers with IQs in the 50s and 60s were sent to death row. Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown, whose sentence was later reduced to life in prison, have been behind bars for the last 30 years.

Last week, they were finally exonerated in another disturbing example of how deeply flawed the death penalty is, particularly for African-American men in the South.


RALEIGH – Support for protecting citizens from unwarranted government surveillance and moving toward more compassionate medical marijuana laws may be rising in the North Carolina General Assembly, according to an annual legislative report card released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC). The report card shows how members of the North Carolina House and Senate voted on legislation introduced during the 2014 session concerning five key civil liberties issues: privacy rights, protections for government whistleblowers, religious liberty, racial and juvenile justice, and compassionate drug policy.

Of particular note, 18 Senate Republicans voted against H.B. 348, which would have dramatically expanded the use of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) on state-owned roads and highways without including crucial safeguards to protect people’s privacy from unwarranted government surveillance. The ACLU-NC has been working with lawmakers from both parties to pass substantive privacy protections concerning law enforcement’s use of ALPRs and other surveillance technology that is currently unregulated in North Carolina. 

“North Carolinians who support civil liberties should be cautiously optimistic about the growing numbers of lawmakers who support protecting people’s privacy from unwarranted government surveillance,” said ACLU-NC Policy Director Sarah Preston. “The near unanimous support for providing patients suffering from epileptic seizures with safe access to a marijuana-based oil is also very encouraging, and we continue to urge lawmakers to extend their compassion to other North Carolinians who are suffering and could benefit from a comprehensive medical marijuana law. However, support for many other key civil liberties, particularly religious liberty for students of minority beliefs, was sorely lacking in both political parties this session.”


GREENSBORO – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation have asked a federal judge to quickly overturn North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in light of a recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that found Virginia’s similar marriage ban unconstitutional.

In documents filed late yesterday with a federal judge in Greensboro, the ACLU explains that the Fourth Circuit’s decision striking down Virginia’s marriage ban created a legal precedent that must be followed by courts in North Carolina, one of five states in the Fourth Circuit. On July 30, Judge William Osteen Jr. asked the parties in two ACLU cases challenging North Carolina’s marriage ban to explain the significance of the Fourth Circuit ruling to North Carolina’s law.

“The ruling from the Fourth Circuit makes plain that North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is discriminatory and unconstitutional,” said ACLU-NC Legal Director Chris Brook. “By denying gay and lesbian couples the dignity and legal security that comes with marriage, North Carolina’s law has harmed countless families and made it harder for people to take care of those they love. We are asking the court to provide relief for these families and strike down North Carolina’s discriminatory and unconstitutional ban without delay.”