During the 2018 Constitution Day lecture, Sujata Sidhu Gibson, a lawyer and faculty member at Cornell Law School, will explore the practical implications of the U.S. Constitution as it relates to the arrests of members of We Are Seneca Lake. Her talk, titled “Defending We Are Seneca Lake: Reflections on Enforcing Constitutional Rights in the Context of Mass Protest Arrests,” will be presented at 4:30 p.m. in Coxe 8 on Tuesday, Sept. 18. It is free and open to the public.
We Are Seneca Lake is a grassroots group that seeks to protect Seneca Lake and the surrounding area from being used as an expanded storage location for methane, propane and butane—three products of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Nearly 700 arrests have been made of group members as they engaged in peaceful civil disobedience protests. Gibson is the lead attorney in the defense of the protestors, and has won more than 300 dismissals to date.
In choosing Gibson to give this lecture, Associate Professor of Political Science Paul Passavant noted that there is a difference between the theoretical study of law and its practical applications—with the work done by Gibson for the Seneca Lake group being an example of the latter. “My thinking was for someone to speak to what the First Amendment or due process has meant in practice. In other words, what does the ‘Constitution’ actually mean for people in their everyday lives?” he says.
An adjunct professor at Cornell Law School, Gibson is an associate with the firm of Schlather, Stumbar, Parks & Salk, LLP, where her practice involves criminal defense, civil and matrimonial litigation and civil rights advocacy. She is a member of the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, admitted to practice in all the Courts of New York and has spent the past decade litigating in federal, state and local courts. She holds a J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Previously, Gibson served as a union organizer for the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) and was the owner of The Gibson Law Firm, which was named “Best Law Firm in Ithaca” in its first year in 2015.
Recent Constitution Day speakers at HWS include political scientist and author Corey Robin, historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist John Fabian Witt and Cornell University dean and law professor Eduardo M. Peñalver.