Professor of Law Emeritus
Tel. 714.444.4141 ext. 221
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.