Caitlin has served in her current role since August 2015, but her involvement with the ACLU goes back much further.
I knew I wanted to be a social justice lawyer when I read To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind in middle school. I didn’t have any lawyers in my family, and I was captivated by what the lawyers did in these books – the way they used argument and logic to seek justice. I didn’t think of it as social justice lawyering, of course. I just knew I wanted to be a lawyer to help make the world a fairer place.
And I never wavered from that. In law school, I interned for the ACLU one summer, and I knew that was the place for me. I’ve been involved with the ACLU in some capacity ever since. One of the most emotional experiences I’ve had as a social justice lawyer was representing abortion providers at the National ACLU in the late 1990s. That was a really hard time when abortion providers were getting murdered on a regular basis. I was on a team bringing one of the first federal court challenges to a so-called “partial-birth abortion ban” in Rhode Island. Not long after we filed the case, a doctor – Barnett Slepian – was killed by a sniper while standing in his kitchen in Buffalo, NY. One client pulled out of the lawsuit immediately. Another stayed in the case, but he wrote a poignant op-ed for his local paper about wishing he could let his children run barefoot down their driveway and not worry that it might be booby trapped. He used to ride around in a little convertible, and we always fretted about how vulnerable he seemed.
Being a reproductive rights lawyer was easy. Abortion providers put their lives on the line every day to make women’s autonomy and dignity a reality, not just a right on a piece of paper. Their courage further deepened my commitment to the ACLU and all that it stands for.