Rita Sklar: Protecting The Bill Of Rights

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 12:00 am  

Rita Sklar (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

What’s changed, she said, is there are “fewer [legislators] interested in social justice, or at least fewer who are willing to take the heat.”

The ACLU has also attempted to preserve civil rights for homosexuals in Arkansas, and this is an area in which she has observed dramatic shifts in attitudes — including having openly gay candidates and even a legislator. “That is very satisfying,” Sklar said.

The ACLU has not, however, inserted itself into what might look like a natural fight over the Bill of Rights: gun rights. That, Sklar said, is because the ACLU officially insists that the Second Amendment refers to the right of states to raise militias rather than about individual gun ownership, despite clear Supreme Court decisions to that effect.

The organization, then, has not considered gun control to be a civil liberties issue, although Sklar said there is internal discussion about changing that position.

In a state that has always been conservative socially and that has become increasingly conservative politically, Sklar’s job might seem to require courage, or at least a very thick skin. Not so, she says.

“People assume it takes courage to do what I’m doing, but I don’t understand what they are talking about. In my family, in the area I come from, these are very common ways of thinking,” Sklar said.

And the state to which she relocated had made it as pleasant as possible to be an outsider.

“Arkansans really don’t like confrontation, so I’ve had very few people say anything ugly to my face,” she said, then smiled. “Ugly — that’s a word I picked up in Arkansas.”

(Return to Women of Influence)



Please read our comments policy before commenting.