Full-Time Faculty

Mary Ellen Gale

Professor of Law Emeritus

  • A.B., Radcliffe/Harvard, magna cum laude
  • J.D., Yale

Contact Information

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Tel. 714.444.4141 ext. 221
Fax. 714.444.1854
Building Two, Room 221

Mary Ellen Gale has long specialized in constitutional law and individual rights. In her first career, journalism, she wrote about the civil rights movement as executive editor of The Southern Courier, a newspaper founded by Harvard Crimson editors and local activists to cover politics, poverty, and civil rights in Alabama and Mississippi. She was a political speechwriter for a mayoral campaign in New York City and a U.S. Senate campaign in Connecticut, a legal services attorney in rural Virginia, and a staff lawyer and congressional lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. She was primary author or co-author of ACLU appellate briefs in several cases heard before the Supreme Courts of California and of the United States and other appellate courts, and wrote testimony for the U.S. Congress about the death penalty and other criminal justice issues. She worked on the Los Angeles school desegregation case for five years, including one year as a full-time volunteer appellate attorney.

Professor Gale has been an elected member of the ACLU National Board of Directors since 1987 and the ACLU of Southern California Board of Directors since 1976, served on the ACLU National Executive Committee for sixteen years, and has co-chaired the ACLU-SC’s Legal Executive Committee since 1988. She received the ACLU-SC’s first Distinguished Professor of Civil Liberties Education award in 1995. She has written op-ed articles and book reviews on legal and other topics for publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Rolling Stone, and USA Today, and has done radio and television commentary on PBS, NPR, and stations in Los Angeles and Orange County. Her scholarship centers on her interests in constitutional law and democratic governance, civil liberties, civil rights, economic justice, women’s rights and feminist legal theory. She joined the Whittier law faculty in 1981.

Books and Book Chapters

  • Free Speech, Equal Rights, and Water Buffaloes: University Regulation of Discriminatory Verbal Harassment, in Rights and the Common Good
    (Amitai Etzioni ed. 1995).
  • Testimony, S. 1400 and S. 1, Bills to Revise the Federal Criminal Law, Subcommittee on Criminal Laws and Procedures, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, July 19, 1974 (American Civil Liberties Union pamphlet, 95 pages), 120 Cong. Rec. S. 20500 (Dec. 4, 1974)
  • High Crimes and Misdemeanors: What They Are, What They Aren’t
  • (ACLU pamphlet 1974) (co-author)


  • Calling in the Girl Scouts: Feminist Legal Theory and Police Misconduct, 34 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 691 (2001)
  • Short Review of Fighting Words: Individuals, Communities, and Liberties of Speech, by Kent Greenawalt, 551 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 250 (May 1997).
  • Short Review of Transforming Free Speech: The Ambiguous Legacy of Civil Libertarianism, by Mark A. Graber, 102 Ethics 887 (July 1992).
  • Ducks, Rabbits, and the First Amendment: May Universities Regulate Prejudicial Speech?, 3 Report of the Program for the Study of Cultural Values and Ethics,
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (November 1991).
  • Reimagining the First Amendment: Racist Speech and Equal Liberty, 65 St. John’s Law Review 119 (1991).
  • On Curbing Racial Speech, 1 The Responsive Community 47 (Winter 1990/91).
  • Review of Making It and Breaking It: The Fate of Public Interest Commitment During Law School, by Robert V. Stover, 13 Legal Studies Forum 313 (1989).
  • The Real ACLU, 2 Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 161 (1989) (lead author).
  • Unfinished Women: The Supreme Court and the Incomplete Transformation of Women’s Rights in the United States, 9 Whittier Law Review 445 (1987).
  • Deconstructing the Constitution, 21 Beverly Hills Bar Association Journal 259 (1987).
  • Retribution, Punishment, and Death, 18 U.C. Davis Law Review 973 (1985).
  • Civil Rights: Relegating Minorities to the Back of the Courthouse, 18 Trial (#10), at 40 (Oct. 1982).
  • Legal Writing: The Impossible Takes a Little Longer, 44 Albany Law Review 298 (1980).
  • Interdistrict Relief for Segregated Schooling in California: The Constitution Crosses the District Line, 7 San Fernando Valley Law Review 117 (1979) (co-author).
  • Narcs Should Be High School Dropouts, Law Magazine, Premier Issue, 1977, at 40.
  • S. 1 and the Death Penalty: The Persistence of Discretion, 9 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 251 (1976).
  • Impeachment: An Historical Overview, 5 Seton Hall Law Review 689 (1974) (co-author).

Editorials and Book Reviews

  • Who’ll stop the flood of campaign dollars? Los Angeles Daily News, Nov. 4, 1997, at 11 (lead author).
  • Trashing the Constitution (Review of Daniel Lazare, The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution is Paralyzing Democracy), 262 The Nation 29 (Feb. 26, 1996).
  • Supreme Reactionaries (Review of James F. Simon, The Center Holds: the Power Struggle Inside the Rehnquist Court), 261 The Nation 242 (Sept. 11, 1995).
  • Naked Women in the Museum, The Radcliffe Quarterly, Sept. 1992, at 18.
  • Colleges Must Protect Minorities and Women, USA Today, Jan. 9, 1991, at 8A.
  • Free Speech Doesn’t Include Harassment of Minorities, ACLU-SC Open Forum, Sept./Oct. 1990, at 4.
  • Free Speech Doesn’t Include Harassment, The New York Times (Letter to the Editor), July 28, 1990, at 14.
  • Attacks on Minorities Are Our Target, The Los Angeles Daily Journal, 1, at 6 (May 3, 1990) (response to Nat Hentoff, California ACLU Retreats on Free Speech).
  • Review of In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU, by Samuel Walker, ACLU-SC Open Forum, Jan./Feb. 1990, at 2.
  • Review of Birth Power: The Case for Surrogacy, by Carmel Shalev, The New York Times, Dec. 17, 1989, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 12.
  • Surrogate Parenting: Self-Determination or Exploitation? The Rock (Whittier College Alumni Magazine), Fall 1988, at 6.
  • Review of A View from the Bench, by Joseph A. Wapner, The New York Times, Dec. 13, 1987, 7 (Book Review), at 19.
  • Review of Traitors and Heroes: A Lawyer’s Memoir, by Martin Garbus, The New York Times, Aug. 30, 1987, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 21.
  • Competing Visions of Equality for American Women, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 23, 1986, 1, at 13.
  • Four Views of Feminism Clash in Cal-Fed, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Oct. 17, 1986, at A13.
  • The Facts of Life, The Los Angeles Daily Journal, 1, at 4 (Oct. 13, 1986).
  • If Edwin Meese Can’t Tell Crime from Dissent, That’s Nothing To Be Joking About, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, May 22, 1981, at A22.
  • Review of From Brown to Bakke: The Supreme Court and School Integration, by J. Harvie Wilkinson 3d, The New York Times, May 27, 1979, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 11.
  • Review of The Equal Rights Handbook, by Riane Tennenhaus Eisler, The National Law Journal, Feb. 5, 1979, at 33.
  • They’re Still Snooping on Us, The Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 27, 1978, at 6.
  • Should California Expand Its Death Penalty Statute? No, Los Angeles Times (Opinion Section), Oct. 22, 1978, at 3.
  • Review of They Do It All with Mirrors, by Carol White, Los Angeles Times, Mar. 26, 1978, (Book Review) at 10.
  • Review of Once to Every Man: A Memoir, by William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Los Angeles Times, Dec. 25, 1977, (Book Review) at 1.
  • Review of The Cop Who Would Be King: The Honorable Frank Rizzo, by Joseph R. Daughen and Peter Binzen, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 20, 1977, (Book Review) at 40.
  • Supreme Court: Six Blind Men, The Village Voice, July 11, 1977, at 13.
  • Review of Roger Baldwin: A Portrait, by Peggy Lamson, The New York Times, Nov. 14, 1976, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 2.
  • Furthermore: An Obscene Case? MORE (The Journalism Review), February 1976, at 23.
  • The Dissenting Opinion of William O. Douglas, Rolling Stone, Jan. 15, 1976, at 26.
  • Review of We Almost Lost Detroit, by John G. Fuller, The New York Times, Nov. 30, 1975, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 4.
  • Review of Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, by Susan Brownmiller, The New York Times, Oct. 12, 1975, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 1.
  • Review of Crime on Her Mind, edited by Michele B. Slung, The New York Times, June 1, 1975, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 5.
  • Pasadena: Rights vs. Security, Los Angeles Times (Opinion Section), May 25, 1975, at 1.
  • Review of Against the Law: The Nixon Court and Criminal Justice, by Leonard W. Levy, The New York Times, Apr. 27, 1975, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 6.
  • Review of Capital Punishment, by Charles L. Black, Jr., and Partial Justice, by Willard Gaylin, The New York Times, Jan. 5, 1975, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 1.
  • Review of Prophets with Honor, by Alan Barth, The New York Times, July 28, 1974, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 2.
  • Review of Impeachment: A Handbook, by Charles L. Black, Jr., The New York Times, July 14, 1974, ‘ 7 (Book Review), at 3.

Presentations, Television and Radio Commentaries

  • Commentary on Bush Administration torture memos, other issues, AInside OC,@ KOCE-TV, May 1, 2009 (legal public affairs program)
  • Commentary on Proposition 8, federal bailouts, people=s opinions of lawyers, Obama citizenship, AInside OC,@ KOCE-TV, March 13, 2009.
  • Economic Justice and Civil Liberties, ACLU Biennial Conference, Seattle, June 2007
  • First Monday: Civil Rights Post-Katrina, Whittier Public Interest Law Foundation, Oct. 3, 2005
  • Debate with Professor Douglas Kmiec, The Politicization of the Judicial Confirmation Process, Federalist Society, Whittier Law School, Apr. 1, 2005
  • Reply to Professor David E. Bernstein, First Amendment and Anti-Discrimination Law, Federalist Society, Whittier Law School, Nov. 3, 2003
  • Civil Liberties in Wartime, Loyola Marymount University, First Amendment Education Week, Apr. 3, 2003
  • First Monday: Civil Liberties in a New America: Military Tribunals, Whittier Public Interest Law Foundation, Oct. 7, 2002
  • Commentary on Inglewood police misconduct, Conway & Steckler Show, KLSX, 97.1 FM, 8:00-9:00 p.m., July 15, 2002 (commentary on Inglewood police misconduct)
  • The Reagan Administration and Title IX, Conference on the Reagan Presidency, University of California at Santa Barbara, March 28, 2002
  • Terrorism and Civil Liberties, Whittier Law School, March 15, 2002
  • Women police officers, Conway & Steckler Show, KLSX, 97.1 FM, Sept 20, 2000
  • A Feminist Policing, Looking Beyond Rampart: Lessons for Los Angeles, Symposium on Rampart police scandal, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, Sept. 15, 2000 (feminist legal theory and police misconduct)
  • Debate, A Hate Speech and the First Amendment, Justice Talking (weekly public radio program sponsored by Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania) (audiotaped debate aired nationally on 85 National Public Radio stations, July-September 2000)
  • Debate, A Hate Speech and the First Amendment, Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia, sponsored by Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, April 10, 2000
  • Media (radio, newspaper, internet) background and commentary on presidential impeachment, September 1998-February 1999
  • Presidential impeachment and civil liberties, ACLU of Southern California, Sept. 17, 1998
  • Single-sex schools: the Boston Latin case, National Public Radio, Morning Edition, May 29, 1998
  • Single-sex public schools, California Women=s Law Center Board of Directors, Nov. 10, 1997
  • Single-sex public schools and the Constitution, ACLU National Biennial Conference, Santa Fe, NM, June 1997
  • Debate on California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209, with Dr. Edward J. Erler of the Claremont Institute, ABA/LSD Ninth Circuit, at Whittier Law School, Oct. 28, 1996
  • Campaign finance reform and free speech, ACLU of Southern California, July 20, 1996
  • Debate, Sexual harassment and free speech in the workplace, with Professor Eugene Volokh, Federalist Society, UCLA Law School, Nov. 15, 1995
  • Free Speech on the Edge, Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles, Oct. 19, 1995
  • Abortion and the Constitution, sponsored by Christian Legal Society & Women’s Law Association, Whittier Law School, Apr. 19, 1995
  • Sexual harassment and First Amendment, Western Regional Conference on Women and the Law, Los Angeles, November 1994
  • Panelist, First Amendment and elections, The Freedom Forum, Vanderbilt University, November 1992
  • First Amendment and hate speech, International Symposium sponsored by Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, New York City
  • Commentary on recent decisions of U.S. Supreme Court, KGIL Radio, March 1, 1992
  • Commentary on Bill of Rights, KPCC Radio, Airtalk: Legal Edition, February 6, 1992
  • That Delicate Balance II: Our Bill of Rights: The First Amendment and Hate Speech, sponsored by Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society, PBS/CPB, and the American Bar Association, PBS, February 11, 1992 and repeat telecasts (panelist with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, others)
  • First Amendment and pornography, Henry Miller Centenary Celebration, University of California at Los Angeles, October 1991
  • Commentary on Supreme Court, nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas, and law of sexual harassment, KABC, KPFK, and KFI Radio, Los Angeles, September 1991
  • Symposium on Bill of Rights Bicentennial, St. John’s University School of Law (racist speech and equal liberty), May 1991
  • Changing Cultural Values and the Role of the University, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (campus speech codes), April 1991
  • Panelist, Constitutional Law Scholars on the Supreme Court Confirmation Process, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Sept. 10, 1990
  • A Freedom of Expression: Where Do You Draw the Line? American Jewish Committee, Los Angeles Chapter, Sept. 6, 1990
  • Reproductive freedom law, The New Public Health: 1990—A Statewide Conference on the Future of Public Health in California (reproductive freedom law), May 1990
  • Reproductive freedom law, Association of Academic Women, University of California at Los Angeles (reproductive freedom law), March 1990
  • Feminist Think Tank, U.S.C. Institute for Study of Women and Men (led by Betty Friedan), 1987-1994.
  • Panelist, Radcliffe College 25th Reunion, June 1997
  • Sesquicentennial Celebration of Knox College and Galesburg, Illinois, May 1987
  • Women’s Rights in the United States, International Law Symposium, Whittier Law School, April 1987
  • Women’s Rights, ACLU Legislative Conference, Claremont, March 1987
  • Civil Liberties in California Supreme Court, ACLU Legislative Conference, Los Angeles, 1986.

Professional/public interest-selected activities

  • American Civil Liberties Union, National Board of Directors, since 1987 (re-elected 2008)
  • ACLU National Executive Committee, 1989-91, 1992-94, 1995-2001, 2002-08
  • ACLU National Board – Second Amendment Committee, since 2009
  • ACLU National Board – Campaign Finance Committee, since 2007
  • ACLU National Executive Director Search Committee, 2000-01
  • Author or co-author of ACLU policies on issues including single-sex schools, independent counsel, term limits, sexual harassment, compensation policy, racist speech, 1987-99.
  • Presentations to National Board and/or ACLU Biennial Conferences on issues including economic justice, campaign finance, sex- and pregnancy-based discrimination in employment, sexual harassment, hate speech, double jeopardy and civil rights, Supreme Court and Attorney General nominations, presidential impeachment, independent counsel law, 1987-2010
  • Voting delegate, 14 ACLU National Biennial conferences 1981-2007
  • ACLU of Southern California Board of Directors, since 1976 (re-elected 2009)
  • ACLU-SC Distinguished Professorship in Civil Liberties Education Award, 1995.
  • ACLU-SC Special Commendation for Excellence as Volunteer Attorney (Los Angeles school desegregation case) 1982
  • ACLU of Southern California President, 1985-88; Vice President, 1983-85; Executive Committee, since 1988
  • ACLU-SC /Foundation Legal Executive Committee, co-chair, since 1988
  • ACLU Foundation of Southern California Board of Directors, since 1993
  • ACLU-SC volunteer attorney; co-author or adviser on numerous appellate and amicus briefs in U.S. Supreme Court, California Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and other courts on civil liberties issues including school desegregation, free speech and press, due process, rights of poor, sex- and race-based discrimination, since 1977
  • ACLU-SC primary author of several policies including sexual harassment, campaign finance, discriminatory harassment on college campuses, poverty and civil liberties, economic justice, single-sex schools, presidential impeachment, independent counsel; chair of committees including Legal, Budget, Equality, Poverty and Civil Liberties, since 1977
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for Law Professors, Columbia Law School, 1981
  • Panelist on Legal Writing, AALS Annual Meeting, January 1980