Thank you for supporting Maryland Legal Aid! In 2009, Maryland Legal Aid became the first legal services organization in the U.S. to formally embrace human rights as the central operating principle for its work. Legal services to the poor grew out of the civil rights and anti-poverty movements of the mid-20th century, which had antecedents in the anti-slavery and women’s rights campaigns of the previous century. And it’s all part of the human rights movement, which has ancient roots.
Recognizing those links, Maryland Legal Aid adopted a human rights framework to guide its mission of finding legal remedies for the problems that afflict the poor—and to advance the recognition and protection of basic human rights, such as safe and decent housing, fair pay, and affordable medical treatment.
Basic human rights are found in the Declaration of Independence—“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—as natural rights that the founders of our nation embraced. They are also embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as rights not given by the government, but as rights as human beings.
Furthermore, the international community has examined what those rights mean and developed norms that nations should strive to achieve.
Closer to home, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Maryland Court of Appeals have looked to human rights law in examining issues such as capital punishment, medical experimentation on children and the right of transgendered people to be identified to their selected gender.
Forty years ago, legal services were an essential source of law reform. It was one of the most important allies of the poor. Now, with President Obama recommending the lifting of some restrictions on legal services organizations (and Congress following through on some) there is a new opportunity to rebuild it—and legal services organizations such as Legal Aid are working to reclaim this historic stage.
Our 2011 celebration activities:
Register Now Using the Link Below!!!!!
"Advancing Human Rights and Justice For All"
A Symposium Celebrating Maryland Legal Aid’s Centennial
Jointly presented by the University of Baltimore and University of Maryland Schools of Law
April, 28, 2011
The symposium will celebrate Legal Aid’s Centennial through an exploration of international and national human rights advocacy and its application to local advocacy strategies when serving the poor. The symposium will commence with an in-depth presentation on human rights followed by a discussion of the use of such rights by legal experts. The second panel will focus the discussion on a "Maryland Context" and will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience. Panelists and speakers include experts in the fields of human rights and legal services, including Wade Henderson, Florence Roisman, Steve Sachs, Edgar Cahn, and Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell. While open to the public, this event is targeted to attorneys, law students, law professors, legal and human services providers, and college and high school students. The symposium will conclude with a cocktail reception.