Distinguished Professor of Law, Robert E. Knowlton Scholar, and Director of the Constitutional Rights Clinic
Professor Askin entered Rutgers School of Law–Newark in September 1963 as a student — after an earlier career as a journalist — and has been here ever since. He was appointed to the faculty upon his graduation with highest honors in 1966. Admitted to the law school without an undergraduate degree, he was awarded a B.A. from City College of New York at the same time he received his J.D. from Rutgers.
In 1970, Professor Askin established the Constitutional Litigation Clinic as part of the law school’s curriculum; he still is associated with the clinic (now known as the Constitutional Rights Clinic). Under his guidance, the clinic litigated the first police surveillance cases in the nation; battled the FBI over the investigation and maintenance of files on two precocious New Jersey high schoolers who corresponded with “the wrong persons”; defended affirmative action programs up to the U.S. Supreme Court; challenged the New Jersey State Police for stopping and searching “long-haired travelers” on the state’s highways; argued for the right of the homeless to vote and to have access to public library facilities; and protected the right of grassroots advocacy groups to take their messages door-to-door and to privately owned shopping malls.
Most recently, Professor Askin and his students have successfully extended the free speech provisions of the New Jersey Constitution to protect homeowners in privately-run residential communities (POAs, HOAs, etc.), making New Jersey the first state to provide such protection through litigation.
Professor Askin has been a member of the National Board of the American Civil Liberties Union since 1969 and has been one of the ACLU’s four general counsel since 1976. He is also a member of the board of directors of Project Vote. In 1986, he was the (unsuccessful) Democratic candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th District, covering parts of Essex and Morris Counties. Professor Askin is one of the featured writers on the Star-Ledger’s NJ Voices.com. His memoir, Defending Rights: A Life in Law and Politics, was published in 1997 by Humanities Press. He is listed in Woodward & White’s Best Lawyers in America.