Press Room: Predatory Lending
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October 15th, 2012 -
The ACLU is co-counsel with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and the National Consumer Law Center in a groundbreaking case that links racial discrimination to the practice of purchasing and financing predatory home mortgages that were bundled into lucrative securities sold by Wall Street banks.
Anthony D. Romero is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation's premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. He took the helm of the organization just seven days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national Keep America Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis, achieving court victories on the Patriot Act, uncovering thousands of pages of documents detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, and filing the first successful legal challenge to the Bush administration's illegal NSA spying program. Romero also led the ACLU in establishing the John Adams Project, a joint effort with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to assist the under-resourced military defense lawyers in the Guantánamo military commissions.
Romero has also led the ACLU in its unique legal challenge to the patents held by a private company on the human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer; in its landmark lawsuit challenging Arizona’s anti-immigrant law that invites law enforcement to engage in racial profiling; and in its ongoing campaign to end mass incarceration, which has achieved significant victories, including the 2010 passage of the federal Fair Sentencing Act and the implementation of less punitive, evidence-based criminal justice reforms in several states.
An attorney with a history of public-interest activism, Romero has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU's history and a large increase in national and affiliate staff. This extraordinary growth has allowed the ACLU to expand its nationwide litigation, lobbying and public education efforts, including new initiatives focused on human rights, racial justice, religious freedom, technology and privacy, reproductive freedom, criminal law reform and LGBT rights. In 2010, the ACLU completed the largest fundraising campaign on behalf of civil rights and civil liberties in American history. “Leading Freedom Forward: The ACLU Campaign for the Future,” along with the ongoing Strategic Affiliate Initiative, launched an unprecedented effort to build the organization's infrastructure by increasing funding to key state affiliates, enhancing advocacy capabilities nationwide and securing the ACLU's financial future.
Romero is the ACLU's sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. In 2005, Romero was named one of Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and has received dozens of public service awards and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law.
In 2007, Romero and co-author and NPR correspondent Dina Temple-Raston published “In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror,” a book that takes a critical look at civil liberties in this country at a time when constitutional freedoms are in peril.
Born in New York City to parents who hailed from Puerto Rico, Romero was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He is a graduate of Stanford University Law School and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. He is a member of the New York Bar Association and has sat on numerous nonprofit boards.
Dennis Parker is responsible for overseeing the Racial Justice Program's efforts in combating discrimination and addressing other issues with a disproportionate impact on communities of color.
The program has been vigilant in fighting the "School-to-Prison" pipeline, which is increasingly pushing a disproportionate number of Native American, Latino and Black students into the juvenile justice system. Parker also oversees work to combat the profiling of airline passengers subjected to searches and wrongfully placed on watch lists; and reducing the level of racial bias in the criminal justice system.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Parker was the chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the Office of New York State Attorney General under Eliot Spitzer. He previously spent 14 years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he supervised the litigation of scores of cases nationwide in matters involving elementary and secondary education, affirmative action in higher education and equal educational opportunity.
Parker has also worked with the New York Legal Aid Society. He teaches Race, Poverty and Constitutional Law at Columbia University's School Law Institute.
He graduated from Harvard Law School and Middlebury College.
Schwartztol’s work focuses on litigation and advocacy involving foreclosure and predatory lending as well as the school-to-prison-pipeline.
Previously, Schwartztol was a staff attorney in the ACLU’s National Security Project, where he litigated cases involving foreign intelligence surveillance, ideological exclusion of foreign scholars, and the government's search authority at airports and the U.S. border.
He has also served as a visiting researcher in the Center on National Security and the Law at Georgetown University Law School.
Schwartztol previously litigated school equity cases as a Karpatkin Fellow at the Program and worked on voting rights issues as a Liman Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
He clerked for U.S. Judge Harry T. Edwards of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Schwartztol graduated from Yale Law School and received his B.A. from the University of Chicago.
Kary L. Moss has served as the Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan since 1998. She earned a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and a JD from CUNY Law School at Queen’s College. Prior to joining the ACLU of Michigan, she clerked at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then served as staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project which was founded by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Since joining the staff, Moss has spearheaded tremendous growth in the organization. In addition to leading two effective capital and operating campaigns, the organization’s programs have included many high impact, important civil rights cases including the country’s first challenge to the government’s effort to close immigration court hearings to the public, warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Administration and the first-of-its-kind “right to read” lawsuit holding the state accountable for dismal literacy scores in a Detroit-area school district. She has served as the Chair of the ACLU’s Executive Director Council, representing all state directors in the ACLU and is a member of the Detroit News Editorial Page Advisory Board.
Michael J. Steinberg has served as the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan since 1997 and is responsible for overseeing all litigation taken on by the ACLU throughout the state. Steinberg earned a B.A. with honors from Wesleyan University in 1983 and is a 1989 cum laude graduate of Wayne State University Law School. Upon graduation, he clerked for then Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Marilyn Kelly (now a Michigan Supreme Court Justice). He then established his own private practice in Ann Arbor where he specialized in civil rights litigation and civil and criminal appeals. Among his many private cases, Steinberg successfully challenged the Ann Arbor Police Department’s practice of coercing African American men into giving blood for DNA testing during the Ann Arbor serial rapist investigation.
Since joining the staff of the ACLU, Steinberg has worked on numerous high impact, high profile cases on a wide range of civil liberties issues including: freedom of speech and expression, post 9-11 issues, religious freedom, racial justice, LGBT rights, police misconduct, women’s rights, reproductive freedom, voting rights, right to counsel and prisoner rights. Steinberg is a former high school teacher and coach, a former President of the Ann Arbor Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and a founding board member of Michigan Peace Action (formerly Michigan SANE/Freeze). He has been selected by Harvard Law School as a public interest fellow for the 2007-08 academic year.
Sarah Mehta joined the ACLU of Michigan staff in September 2011. Previously, she was the Aryeh Neier fellow at Human Rights Watch and the national American Civil Liberties Union, working on the rights of people with disabilities in immigration court and detention.
She is a graduate of Yale Law School and has a dual bachelor’s degree in International Development and South Asian Studies, honors, from Brown University. From 2005-2006 she was a Fulbright Scholar in India, investigating discrimination against Muslims and previously spent a year in Hyderabad, India, studying access to courts.
While a student at Yale, Sarah was a student director of the Prison Litigation clinic and participated in the International Human Rights Clinic, Capital Punishment Clinic and the Criminal Defense project. Sarah was an articles editor of the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal and was director of the Civil Rights Project. Sarah has worked on prisoner rights in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska and Connecticut and specifically on juvenile justice in Mississippi (with the Southern Poverty Law Center) and police brutality in New Orleans. Sarah speaks intermediate French and Hindi/Urdu.
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