Civil Rights & Liberties

Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso at TJSL

The struggle for civil rights may have begun many decades ago, but it is far from complete. Thomas Jefferson School of Law offers a variety of courses focusing on exploring and protecting the civil rights and civil liberties of minority groups and of society in general. Many Thomas Jefferson law professors write in areas of civil rights, and have broad experience advocating for civil rights in court and before legislatures. Our professors have written and lectured on subjects such as educational equality, recompense for slavery, and combating employment discrimination, and many others, and participate in conversations on the cutting edge of the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other biases and prejudices.

Students at Thomas Jefferson have the opportunity to take a variety of courses focusing on civil rights issues relating to race, gender, and other categories, as well as intersectionalities in language minority rights, disability, HIV/AIDs status, class, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, national origin / alienage. We also offer courses and internships that will give students experience in the real world of litigating civil rights and civil liberties. Our Center for Law and Social Justice coordinates a variety of events every year, and offers many chances for student participation. Recent conferences, programs and courses have allowed students to explore a variety of issues including voting rights and re-districting cases, hate crimes, government surveillance and the PATRIOT ACT, merit and assessment systems, and more. In addition, through our Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic and Externship Program, TJSL students can work with clients who may face a variety of difficulties. Finally, a variety of student organizations allow additional opportunities for civil rights dialog and advocacy, including the Black Law Students Association, La Raza, OutLaw, Women's Law Association, Asian Pacific Law Students Association, Middle Eastern Law Students Association, and National Lawyers Guild.


American Indian Law

Civil Justice Seminar

Civil Rights

Critical Race Studies

Employment Discrimination

Gender Equality

Health Care Liability

Immigration Law

Law, Equality & Educational Institutions

Law & Religion

Race & the Law

Refugee & Asylum Law

Medicine & Bioethics

Natural Resources Law

Sexuality Gender & the Law

Civil Rights & Liberties are also addressed in courses relating to International Human Rights

Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp (Employment Discrimination, Globalization & the Workplace) is a leading international expert on the rights of workers. She is co-author of the leading casebook, The Global Workplace: International And Comparative Employment Law - Cases And Materials (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and a member of the teaching faculty of the Doctoral Research School in Labour and Industrial Relations at the Marco Biagi Foundation, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Professor Marjorie Cohn (Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence),a criminal defense attorney at the trial and appellate levels for many years, is co-author of Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice. She is the immediate past-president of the National Lawyers Guild and serves as a frequent commentator on criminal law issues in the national and international media, including BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and NPR.

Professor Julie Greenberg (Sexuality, Gender & the Law, Women & the Law, Comparative Family Law) is an internationally recognized expert on the legal issues relating to gender, sex, sexual identity and sexual orientation. Her path-breaking work on gender identity has been cited by a number of state and federal courts, as well as courts in other countries. Her most recent work, Intersexuality & the Law: Why Sex Matters, was published in 2011 by the New York University Press.

Professor David Steinberg (Law and Religion) served as a co-chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Civil Rights, and has served on the Executive Committee of the Association’s Section on Law and Religion. Professor Steinberg has published numerous articles exploring law and religion and regularly provides analysis on criminal and constitutional law issues for The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Los Angeles Daily Journal and several regional television and radio news programs.

Professor William Slomanson (International Law) has served since 1992 as editor of the American Society of International Law's section on the United Nations Decade of International Law, and has lectured on teaching of international law to the United Nations Sixth Committee (legal) at the U.N. in New York. Since 2002, he has regularly taught in Kosovo during the summer, and he is now a Visiting Professor at the Pristina University. In Fall 2007, he became a Corresponding Editor for the American Society of International Law's International Legal Materials. His works include Fundamental Perspectives on International Law, which is currently in its fifth edition.

Professor Bryan Wildenthal (American Indian Law, Federal Courts and Jurisdiction) was an editor of the Stanford Law Review and clerked for Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and Chief Justice Michael F. Cavanagh of the Michigan Supreme Court. He practiced at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale) in Washington, D.C., and taught at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, before joining TJSL in 1996. He has published frequently in leading law reviews, including those at Stanford, Ohio State, Arizona, Illinois, Oregon, Tulsa, Washington & Lee, Georgia State, and Michigan State. His first book appeared in 2003. He is now at work on a series of articles that will eventually form his second book, offering a sweeping reinterpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment and its application of the Bill of Rights to the states. His scholarly interests generally focus on constitutional law and history, American Indian law, and sexual identity law.

Professor Steven Berenson (Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic) founded and now supervises TJSL's Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic, which provides a range of legal services to veterans living in San Diego communities. Following graduation from law school (where he served as Trial Operations Director of the Harvard Defenders), Professor Berenson clerked for Justice Edith W. Fine of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. He then spent more than five years as an Assistant Massachusetts Attorney General, where he focused on civil litigation in the areas of administrative, constitutional and consumer protection law. During that time, Professor Berenson also served as a Supreme Court Fellow with the National Association of Attorneys General. He regularly publishes work dealing with the role of lawyers in protecting individuals civil and constitutional rights.

Associate Professor Ilene Durst (Immigration Law, Refugee and Asylum Law) focuses her scholarship on language and narrative theory, with particular application to appellate advocacy, immigration law and the literary representation of the legal culture. Before joining TJSL she clerked for the Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department and had extensive litigation and immigration law experience with law firms and public service organizations in New York. Here publications include "Lost in Translation: Why Due Process Demands Deference to the Refugee's Narrative" in the Rutgers Law Review.

Associate Professor Maurice R. Dyson (Law, Equality & Educational Institutions; Civil Rights; Critical Race Studies) was a Special Projects team attorney for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and has also served as the national chairperson of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Education Law. Among his recent scholarship, he has written the first ever education law-critical race theory reader entitled Our Promise: Achieving Educational Equity for America's Children, Carolina Academic Press (Maurice R. Dyson, Daniel B. Weddle, eds.).

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Keller (Criminal Law, International Criminal Law, International Issues in U.S. Death Penalty Law), a former specialist in criminal law and criminal jury instructions in the Connecticut Judicial Department, specializes in the intersection of domestic and international criminal law, including capital punishment law. Her most recent articles, published in the Connecticut Journal of International Law and the Hague Justice Journal, explore the tension between International Criminal Court prosecution and domestic nonprosecutorial alternatives. Her current research continues exploring the meaning of "justice" through a comparative lens, using New York criminal law to inform interpretation of international criminal law.

Associate Professor Kaimipono David Wenger (Critical Race Theory) has written several articles including "Nullificatory Juries" (with David A. Hoffman) in the Wisconsin Law Review and "Slavery as a Takings Clause Violation" in the American University Law Review, and "Causation and Attenuation in the Slavery Reparations Debate" in the University of San Francisco Law Review.

Associate Professor Meera Deo (Law and Society; Race and the Law) served as an intervening defendant and member of the legal team supporting affirmative action in Grutter v. Bollinger. Her civil rights law practice includes a position as William J. Brennan Fellow at the ACLU National Legal Department in New York City and Staff Attorney for Women's Health at the California Women's Law Center in Los Angeles. Professor Deo later earned a Ph.D. in Sociology, with a focus on race and higher education.

Associate Professor Luz Herrera (Civil Justice Seminar) has worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on empowerment zones and at the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. Before coming to Thomas Jefferson, she opened her own practice serving the under-privileged community in Compton, California. She is the director of TJSL's clinic that provides legal services to underprivileged communities in San Diego County, The Small Business Law Center.

Associate Professor Rebecca Lee (Employment Law & Discrimination; Gender Equality) writes in the areas of employment discrimination and workplace policy, with a focus on issues of gender equality, how gender and race differences shape institutional norms, the role of leadership within organizations as well as the relationship between conceptions of equality and diversity. Her scholarship includes The "Organization as a Gendered Entity: A Response to Professor Schultz's The Sanitized Workplace" in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.