Marilyn J. Harbur is Senior Assistant Attorney General at Oregon Department of Justice. Marilyn serves as a Special Counsel to the Section.
Where are you from? How have your experiences here, or throughout your upbringing, influenced your passions and aspirations today?
Originally, I am from Wichita, Kansas. I practiced law a few years in the Kansas City area after graduating from the University of Kansas with a JD and MPA. But I moved to Oregon in 1980 where I have been a county attorney, a city attorney and, for a long time, an Assistant Attorney General, primarily representing the State of Oregon when large corporate taxpayers appeal their property tax or corporation excise tax. To balance tedious government tax work, I joined the ABA in 1979. For years, I was active in the YLD and then GPSLD and other Sections, Standing Committees, etc. However, it was my appointment to the Commission on Homelessness & Poverty that led to my activity in I.R.R, now CRSJ, to address the social justice and civil rights issues that really matter.
What drives you?
Economic justice on systemic and individual levels: Corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes and society/governments need to provide an adequate standard of living to all people, which of course entails addressing climate change impacts, tax equity, education, etc.
When you look back, what is it that you want your advocacy and professional career to stand for?
“Fairness” in advocacy, but I would also like to think I have made some contribution to economic justice. I am glad to have played a part in the ABA HOD’s adoption of Resolutions addressing the human right to food, to housing, to a universal basic income, to nondiscriminatory motor vehicle lending practices, to prohibition of source of income discrimination, and most recently to a living wage.
What is one issue which you care about or work most on and why?
It is hard to identify just one issue. I’m an inveterate multi-tasker.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge facing this issue today?
All of the issues I care about face absurdly divisive political challenges – particularly absurd considering the serious climate change and other human-made conditions the world is facing.
In what corners do you find the greatest support in propelling these issues you work on? In other words, who are your most frequent allies?
What CRSJ project(s) are you working on? Or, what have you undertaken in CRSJ that you found the most rewarding to have worked on? Are there any upcoming events or projects you want us all to know about?
I listed some Resolutions above, which were CRSJ projects and in certain cases “hard fought.” The Economic Justice Committee is working on programs and other ways to implement the Resolutions. In prior years, I organized and moderated tax equity programs for the Economic Justice Committee, and the plan is to do more of these. Currently, I am also working on the Housing Evictions Task Force and other housing issues with the Economic Justice Committee. Consumer protection is a large part of the Economic Justice Committee’s focus, as well as my work in SLGL. Because so many areas have an economic justice component, as CRSJ Special Counsel for Division 2, I am encouraging the Disability Rights Committee, the Environmental Justice Committee, the Health Law and Ethics Committee, and the Elder Affairs Committee to collaborate with Economic Justice – and I extend that invitation to the other CRSJ committees.