On Thursday, our staff was thrilled to recognize Walt McKee with the 2012 Justice Louis Scolnik Award. Walt received the honor at our annual dinner in Freeport, where we also heard from Laura Murphy, director of the national ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. Both Walt and Laura gave great speeches that touched on why civil liberties are worth fighting for even when it so often feels like an uphill battle.
Using the old Paul Harvey show “The Rest of the Story” as an analogy, Walt talked about why the “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” approach to criminal justice is misguided. He spoke eloquently about overincarceration in the United States and about the need to protect civil liberties and freedom instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming that increased penalties and longer sentences will somehow fix the problem. There’s always more to be told – and because of his tireless efforts to tell "the rest of the story," Walt has made extraordinary and meaningful contributions to civil liberties in Maine.
In her speech, Laura touched on many key ACLU issues as well, ranging from marriage to government spying to voting rights. She spoke about all the hard work going on in Washington and stressed repeatedly how critical Maine is to those struggles. She knows better than anyone how influential our congressional delegation can be, and her tales of Capitol Hill made clear that Maine is as important a state as any when it comes to shaping national policy.
Thanks to everyone who came to the Scolnik Dinner and to all of you who support the work we do everyday. It was great fun for all of us to hear from Laura and Walt and an even greater pleasure to be able to share the evening with so many of you. Here are a pair of photos from the dinner -- first of Walt receiving his award and then of our entire staff posing alongside Laura Murphy:
Walt McKee receives the 2012 Justice Louis Scolnik Award. From left to right: ACLU of Maine Board President John Paterson, Walt McKee, and Executive Director Shenna Bellows
Our entire staff with Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office