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Attorney Lawrence Reuben remembered for community activism

September 15, 2015

Indianapolis attorney Lawrence M. Reuben, who created a strong legacy of community activism, died Sept. 11, 2015. He was 67 years old.

In a joint statement, several Jewish and public interest nonprofits including the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana praised Reuben for his civic involvement, calling him a “transformational figure for all the organizations he touched.”

“Beyond his philanthropy, he remained passionate and involved in the work of our organizations,” the nonprofits said in the statement. “He was the first one to send an email or make a congratulatory phone call when there was news of success, and he spared no criticism of something with which he disagreed. He was someone we could count on, to show up at events, to offer ideas and assistance, to heap on the praise when it was deserved, and to continue to fertilize the seeds he had planted in organizations whose work makes life better for all people in Indiana.”

Reuben was born April 5, 1948 in Akron, Ohio, to Albert and Sara Reuben. He was a graduate of the London School of Economics in 1969 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Indiana University in 1970. He received his law degree in 1973 from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

He was a member of the Indiana State Bar and the Indianapolis Bar associations. He received numerous awards including the Sagamore of the Wabash, the L.L. Goodman Leadership Award from the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, and the Robert G. Risk Distinguished Service Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Reuben worked in private practice and served in various state government positions during the Evan Bayh Administration.

He was also a friend of the ACLU of Indiana going back to his days as a law students when he would “hang out” at the then Indiana Civil Liberties Union. As a young attorney after he established his own practice, Reuben would often lunch with the ICLU attorneys and discuss the merits of cases.

In 1977, Reuben and Irving Fink won a First Amendment victory when a state court judge ruled in Hendren v. Campbell that a public school’s teaching of creationism was unconstitutional.

Around this same time, Reuben filed a lawsuit against the Riviera Club in Indianapolis, claiming it excluded people on the basis of race and religion in violation the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Reuben prevailed with the club instituting a new policy of openness, transparency and objectivity.

Most recently, he helped with a successful appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ACLU of Indiana brought the case on behalf of Rebecca Riker, a former employee of an Indiana Department of Correction contractor who wanted to marry an inmate.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana had upheld the DOC’s denial of the marriage application. But in August, the 7th Circuit reversed in Rebecca Riker v. Bruce Lemmon, 14-2910, finding “the right to marry includes the right to select one’s spouse.”

Reuben is survived by his wife, Candice (Duquenne); daughter, Emily; sister, Elaine and brother, David, as well as his brother-in-law John (Jane) Duquenne and sister-in-law Pamela (Fred) Brune.

Funeral services will begin at 2 p.m. Sept. 16 at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, 600 W. 70th Street, Indianapolis. Burial will follow at Beth-El Zedeck North Cemetery.   

 

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