Maureen Martin, Heartland’s senior fellow for legal affairs and legal counsel to the organization, died today in the fire that destroyed her home in Wisconsin. This was a very difficult day at Heartland’s offices in Chicago, and for everyone in the Heartland family across the country.
Joe wrote the following on the tribute page, which is now a permanent part of Heartland’s website:
Maureen Martin, a long-time senior fellow and legal counsel to The Heartland Institute and a close friend to many of us here, died in a house fire early this morning. This is truly a sad day.
Maureen was a talented attorney, scholar, and writer. She was deeply committed to protecting individual liberty and limited government through her work with The Heartland Institute, the Federalist Society, and as a volunteer in her local community with many groups. She was deeply involved in a half-dozen research and writing projects for Heartland, projects that will now be much the poorer without her.
Maureen was the editor of Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly, a newsletter that documented outrageous examples of lawyers and plaintiffs abusing the legal system for personal gain. She was the author of two Heartland Policy Briefs explaining and defending Wisconsin’s Act 10, a pioneering collective bargaining reform measure. She wrote legal briefs on a wide variety of topics including the right of nonprofit groups to keep the identities of their donors confidential, the Second Amendment, and environmental regulation. Her amicus brief was cited by the majority in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark ruling in McDonald v. Chicago, finding individuals have a constitutionally protected right to “keep and bear arms.”
In 2012, when The Heartland Institute was the victim of criminal theft of corporate documents, Maureen worked tirelessly to assemble a legal team to explore our legal options and press the U.S. Attorney to prosecute the offender. Most recently she completed work on chapters for a new book on the urgency of constitutional reform that Heartland plans to publish later this year.
Since joining Heartland in 2000, Maureen became a friend, mentor, and confidante to everyone in Heartland’s orbit. Though considerably less than 5 feet tall, she commanded the attention of others by her quick wit and her always insightful observations. She was a loyal friend, a great listener, and always the optimist in the room.
We have lost a true friend, and freedom has lost one of its finest defenders.
Maureen, of course, was also a frequent author on this blog — which she somehow found time to fit into her busy schedule. She was a friend I held dear, and always will. Right now, barely 12 hours since I and everyone at Heartland heard what happened, I can hardly believe she is gone. The shock and sorrow everyone at Heartland feels today will not soon abate.
As it happens, however, Heartland tonight was scheduled to host the latest “Tavern Debate” of the Chicago Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. Maureen was a member of the Federalist Society, and loved all discussions of public policy. So the debate went on as planned, and I want to share a story about it.
After remarks of tribute by me and David Applegate about our friend, we collected our heavy hearts and David began the group discussion of the question on the table: “Resolved: The only fair tax is a flat rate tax.”
During the spirited proceedings, I rose to advocate for a flat tax on moral, libertarian grounds. In short, I said:
A person has but one life, that life is finite, and in a free society the labor of that life belongs chiefly to him or her and his family. We agree, as free people, to sacrifice some of that labor for the betterment of society in the form of taxes for the proper, constitutional roles of government. It is immoral for a government to to take any more than that, though a person in a free society may choose to sacrifice more via other avenues that benefit the social welfare. But a just government treats the labor and wealth of all citizens equally with a single tax rate under the law.
I must confess that my recounting at present reads a lot better than I articulated during the debate. At the time, I missed a lot of good points and left holes in my argument during follow-up questions that Maureen would have easily filled. But she’d have surely nodded in agreement and told me I did a great job. She was always encouraging.
When the event was over, an English gentleman in attendance said the news about Maureen came as a shock to him. He explained to me that his first Chicago job as an attorney many years ago was at Maureen’s law firm. “She was also a teacher! And a journalist!” he told me. “Yes,” I said as we shook hands and he expressed his sorrow and offered his condolences. Maureen was many things in a great career and life.
The gentleman also told me he has long meant to come out to one of the famous Tavern Debates of the Chicago Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. And tonight was the night. Tonight was his first one … in the office of The Heartland Institute that Maureen so loved.
What a small world. What a strange world. It is a world less happy for me with Maureen Martin no longer in it.