The National Coalition for Men, a men’s rights organization based in Southern California, has formed the beginnings of an all-volunteer law firm seeking to change legal systems that it claims are discriminatory against men on the state, federal, and even international level.
While NCFM’s firm is not the first firm to cater to men’s issues, it may be the first to have grown directly from the men’s rights movement.
“The idea is to put together something that does impact litigation,” Marc Angelucci, longtime NCFM member and volunteer lawyer at the firm, told The Daily Beast. “We’re going to set precedent one way or another, we’re going to take cases that help somebody but also help precedent.”
Professor Suzanne Goldberg, head of Columbia Law’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, said the “men’s rights” legal focus may become more prevalent in coming years.
“It will not be surprising to see more lawyers saying that they are ‘men’s rights’ as the #MeToo movement evolves,” she said.
The firm is in its “embryonic” stages, according to NCFM’s president Harry Crouch. He said four lawyers are currently working for the cause voluntarily in Northern and Southern California—along with a few paralegals, two retired investigators serving as researchers, and a retired female “media agent.” Angelucci says many people have approached the group and the budding firm seeking help or offering their services.
“What’s happening now is we’re getting more and more people offering to help. More and more people are coming to us and finding us. People who watch The Red Pill are coming to us,” said Angelucci, referring to a highly controversial 2016 documentary supporting the men’s rights movement. “We’ve really been seeing spike in the past few years, and it’s just going to continue.”
Before the firm’s official establishment, the NCFM had been tangentially involved with gender discrimination complaints filed to the Department of Education—like one the group recently filed against the University of Pennsylvania—and cases against small businesses that host female-exclusive events.
But complaints against universities and quick legal shots against “ladies’ nights” are now considered small ball for the firm.
In its first official action as a law firm, it filed a brief in on an appealed child-support case in San Diego. It also introduced a free family law “legal resource” to its subscribers to help them “better understand family law issues before going to court.”
For the future, Crouch and Angelucci have bigger dreams. Both men say they want to see the firm become a “full-blown civil rights law firm” and take on the caseload that they have to decline or turn away because of their size and lack of resources. Angelucci sees them taking on “bigger fish” litigation—like lawsuits over false sexual assault or harassment accusers under Title IX, discriminatory health-care practices in the remnants of the Affordable Care Act, and paternity cases.
“Yeah, I absolutely see us becoming a civil rights nonprofit law firm… It’s what I’ve been wanting for a long time,” Angelucci said. “We would be helping people challenge abuse from the government, abuse from judges. Some people just need help from that.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center currently considers two other men’s rights groups—A Voice for Men and Return of Kings—as hate organizations for their “extremely misogynistic” messages that “malign” women as a group. The NCFM is not considered a hate group by the SPLC, but Crouch was featured alongside A Voice for Men’s founder Paul Elam in The Red Pill documentary. The SPLC also considers the NCFM’s interest in influencing legal precedent as an effort to reduce women’s protections.
“They say men are victimized at this massive level, but this is not something that accords with real world data,” said Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project director at the SPLC. “Women need strong civil rights protection, especially in paternity cases and divorce cases. I hope this doesn’t lead to an undermining of protections like Title IX.”
Their objective is “not about equality for men,” she added, but rather “about reducing civil rights protections for women. They don’t want women to achieve equality.”
Another case on the firm’s radar is a men’s rights case in India. Angelucci said the firm has been working with activists in the country to challenge an adultery law that only criminally prosecutes men, and the country’s dowry laws—which disgruntled wives have allegedly used against their husbands for revenge. He said some activists want to take these cases to the “U.N. humans rights court,” which does not exist.
Asked about the possibility of taking a gender discrimination like that to the United Nations’ judicial arm (aka the International Court of Justice), Harvard Law Professor Gerald Neuman said individuals cannot take cases to the ICJ—only states can.
“If that is what they say, they sound very confused,” Neuman said.
Angelucci said the firm is aware of some of the backlash it may receive from the media that “paint [it] as all right wing” and maintained that the firm would be seeking nothing more or less than “equal rights” and fairness.
Despite the firm maintaining that it is for equality between the sexes, Goldberg said that socially and legally speaking, the plight of women has been greater overall than that of men.
“Some men have described themselves as feeling under attack under the #MeToo movement, but—of course—it’s not an attack but a challenge to abuses of power,” she said. “Men have not traditionally been burdened or have faced sex discrimination and harassment nearly to the extent that women have in the U.S. and around the world.”