The Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program

Litigation and Lectures

Hays Fellows gain practical litigation experience under the supervision of the Directors or other attorneys active in public interest advocacy. During the early years, when Professor Dorsen ran the Program alone, and provided legal counsel to an ACLU which had almost no national staff, the Fellows worked under his supervision on many leading cases in the United States Supreme Court, including Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), establishing an accused’s right to government-appointment counsel in all felony cases; In re Gault (1967), recognizing due process rights for juveniles accused of delinquency; Levy v. Louisiana (1968), establishing the constitutional rights of children born to unmarried parents; Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), establishing a stricter First Amendment test for statutes that criminalized seditious speech; The Pentagon Papers case (1971), rejecting a prior restraint on newspapers that wished to publish a secret history of the Vietnam War; and United States v. Nixon (1974), recognizing the constitutional basis of presidential executive privilege but nevertheless requiring production of White House audiotapes in the Watergate litigation.

Subsequently, the Fellows have worked with the Directors and in their placements on many other leading cases, including Plyler v. Doe (1982), holding that undocumented children may not be excluded from public schools; United States v. Eichman (1990), striking down a federal statute criminalizing flag desecration; International Union, UAW v. Johnson Controls (1991), invalidating under Title VII a company policy that prohibited women but not men from working where they were exposed to lead poisoning; INS v. St. Cyr (2001), holding that U.S. courts have habeas corpus jurisdiction to review challenges to certain deportation orders, and Rumsfield v. Padilla (2004), declining to reach the issue whether indefinite executive branch detention of an alleged “enemy combatant” is unconstitutional.

In addition, the Hays Program sponsors the Madison Lectures, considered to be the most important lecture series at the Law School.