ACLU’s New Legal Director Jumps Into the Action

SAN DIEGO – The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties welcomes David Blair-Loy as the organization’s new Legal Director. Blair-Loy comes to the ACLU after twelve years of practice in a variety of public interest areas, including civil and criminal cases, trial and appellate work. He replaces Jordan Budd, former Legal Director and an institution in the San Diego legal community, who accepted a professorship at a New Hampshire law school.

“The ACLU is thrilled to have found such a dedicated civil libertarian and legal talent. David has the knowledge and expertise to defend our freedoms during one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history,” said Kevin Keenan, Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “We are extremely fortunate to have him join our team.”

Blair-Loy was carefully selected in a national search with the assistance of a prestigious committee of San Diego attorneys including Charles Bird of Luce, Forward, Hamilton, & Scripps; Susan Clemens of the San Diego Office of Public Defender; Len Simon of Lerach, Coughlin, Stoia, Geller, Rudman, and Robbins; and prominent immigrants’ rights attorney Lilia Velasquez.

Blair-Loy, who started at the San Diego ACLU in April, hit the ground running. He has taken the lead in the ACLU’s representation of Malia Fontana, a 15-year old honor student in Fallbrook who, on March 31, 2006, was ordered by school officials to remove a small American flag she was wearing in her back pocket; and he joined with the other two California ACLU affiliates to file lawsuits against Verizon and AT&T to enjoin them from providing private customer information to the National Security Agency without warrants or customer consent.

Before relocating to San Diego two years ago, Blair-Loy served with the Center for Justice, a non-profit law office in Spokane, Washington. At the Center, Blair-Loy championed right-to-know laws, protected victims of police brutality, and defended an alternative weekly newspaper from libel claims by a city council member. Previously, Blair-Loy served in the Spokane County Public Defender’s office, where he tried felony and misdemeanor cases and the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City, where he represented indigent criminal defendants on appeal.

Blair-Loy is no stranger to the ACLU. He worked closely with the ACLU of Washington and served as a cooperating attorney in a case that protected free speech rights on public sidewalks. “San Diego has inherited a seasoned civil liberties advocate, a thorough, conscientious lawyer, and an eminently pleasant colleague,” said Aaron Caplan, ACLU of Washington Staff Attorney.

Blair-Loy graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law in 1994 and clerked for then-Chief Judge Dolores Sloviter of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

“I am more honored than I can say that the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties has asked me to build on Jordan Budd’s brilliant, thirteen-year legacy in defending the Constitution and protecting civil liberties,” said Blair-Loy.

Jordan Budd, a graduate of Harvard University Law School, accepted the post of Professor of Law at the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire.

During his tenure, Budd led the ACLU to major victories and enlisted the support of San Diego’s legal community in the fight to protect the Constitution and Bill of Rights. His many legal milestones include:

–In 1996, Budd prevented the relocation of protesters to a further-afield “free speech zone” at the Republican National Convention in NOW v. RNC et al, in which a district court struck down speech restrictions;
–In 2003, Budd and volunteer attorneys from Morrison & Foerster won a landmark victory (now awaiting a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) in Barnes-Wallace v. City of San Diego, challenging the City’s subsidizing of leases of public lands by the Boy Scouts, an organization that discriminates against nonbelievers, gays, and lesbians.
–In Sanchez v. County of San Diego, the ACLU challenged “Project 100%,” a County program that requires all applicants for welfare benefits to submit to an unannounced search of their homes and interrogations by welfare fraud investigators. The ACLU lost at the district court level in 2003 but is awaiting a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
–Budd pressed to find an appropriate remedy for the city of San Diego’s unconstitutional display of a 24-ton Christian cross on public land on Mount Soledad (co-counsel then amicus, Paulson v. City of San Diego), resulting in a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the City’s preferential transfer of the cross to a private organization;
–to have Operation Gatekeeper declared a violation of human rights by the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties v. United States of America); and
–to champion the right of voters to fair, accurate voting machines (Common Cause v. Jones and Southwest Voter Registration Project v. Shelley.
–He challenged UCSD’s overbroad speech regulation code in Shapiro v. Dynes, leading to elimination of the challenged regulations, litigated a case that struck down San Diego’s juvenile curfew ordinance (Nunez v. City of San Diego), and succeeded in having the County’s Sheriff held in contempt for violating population limits imposed at the Los Colinas women’s jail (Armstrong v. County of San Diego).
–Budd also participated in and led many battles for civil liberties outside the courtroom, including working with the San Diego Police Department under then police chiefs Jerry Sanders and David Bejarano to institute data collection and analysis of police stops to detect racial profiling.

“While Jordan Budd leaves a legacy that is deep and rich, the board and staff of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties are certain that David Blair-Loy has the talent, energy and dedication to take the affiliate to the next level,” said Rebecca Jones, president of the San Diego ACLU’s board of directors.

The ACLU is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 1920 to defend civil liberties, including First Amendment rights, the right to equal protection of the law, the right to due process, and the right to privacy. The ACLU has over 400,000 members.