South Asian-American appointed legal director of Illinois ACLU

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Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, the new legal director of Illinois ACLU. (Photo aclu-il.org)

Nusrat Jahan Choudhury is the new Roger Pascal Legal Director for the ACLU of Illinois. Prior to this appointment, she served for nearly 12 years on the legal staff of the ACLU national office in New York City.

A native of Northbrook, Illinois, Choudhury replaces Benjamin Wolf, who announced his retirement last year after more than three decades with the ACLU of Illinois. 

“It is exciting to have someone with Nusrat’s level of experience and expertise to lead our legal staff as we address the many challenges and opportunities for justice in Illinois,” Colleen Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois is quoted saying in a Feb. 18, 2020 press release. “We clearly see the threats to basic civil liberties and civil rights at the federal level, and we know that there is much we can do to protect residents in Illinois. Nusrat has the legal acumen, the strategic vision and the commitment to lead these efforts.” 

“I am thrilled to work with the ACLU of Illinois to build an affirmative agenda to address injustice across Illinois,” Choudhury said. “The affiliate’s history of success provides a rich legacy to build upon. Using the courts and all of our tools, I believe that we can work alongside communities in Illinois to advance equality, dignity, and liberty.”

While at the national ACLU, where she was most recently the Deputy Director of the Racial Justice Program, Choudhury worked on a range of issues including: leading litigation and advocacy to end debtors’ prisons in Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina; winning a critical argument in the Fourth Circuit to advance a federal lawsuit against debtors’ prisons in South Carolina; securing national guidance promoting fairness and equal treatment of rich and poor in courts; helping to launch federal litigation and related advocacy against racial profiling and unlawful stops in Milwaukee’s stop-and-frisk program, resulting in a landmark 2018 court-ordered settlement agreement; challenging the FBI’s targeting of Black activists based on race and speech under the guise of addressing a fictitious group of “Black Identity Extremists”; and working on the team that secured the first federal court ruling striking down the U.S. government’s No Fly List procedures for violating due process; and challenging national security practices that target Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities.

Choudhury is a graduate of Yale Law School and clerked for Judge Denise Cote in the Southern District of New York and Judge Barrington Parker in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, prior to joining the staff of the ACLU.  

“Illinois is where I grew up. I’m excited to return and be part of the effort to make it a better place for all of its residents,” added Choudhury.

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