Portland – The ACLU of Maine will present its annual award to Justice Louis Scolnik of Andover, Mass., at its annual event in Portland on June 6. Justice Scolnik is a founding member and first president of the ACLU of Maine, the state affiliate of the nationwide civil liberties and rights organization.
The award, which is called the Justice Louis Scolnik Award, was established in 1989 to honor members of the community who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the protection of civil liberties. This year, the ACLU is honoring Justice Scolnik, a retired justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, for his lifetime of service.
Justice Scolnik was active in the local branch of the NAACP, and also served, in the mid-1960s, as chairman of the Maine Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights – where he fought to end housing discrimination, including against Black service members stationed at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor who were being blocked from renting or buying adequate housing.
After serving for 16 years as the only cooperating attorney in Maine for the national ACLU, Justice Scolnik joined 20 others in forming the Maine affiliate of the ACLU in 1968. Among the organizations earliest victories was a case involving a Belfast (Maine) High School teacher who was fired for discussing issues of gender and sexuality as part of a lesson on Romeo and Juliet, as well as cases concerning prisoners’ rights, sex discrimination, and religion in public schools.
He was born in Lewiston in 1923, and attended Bates College and Georgetown Law.
The following can be attributed to Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine:
“Justice Scolnik has always been driven by his belief that, together, we can create a more perfect union. He has always known that our state and our nation are a work in progress, and that we will one day live up to the ideals laid out for us. We are grateful for his lifetime of service to the people of Maine.”