Kline came to Seattle with his wife in 1973. He'd spent almost two years, fresh out of law school, working for North Mississippi Rural Legal Services in the not-so-thriving town of Greenwood, in the Delta.
- My major project had been to help a senior lawyer enforce a federal judge's ruling that stopped the warden of the infamous prison-farm, Parchman Farm, from having prisoners beaten, starved, over-worked, and otherwise mistreated.
Those two years were actually his second "tour of duty in Mississippi". Kline been in that same town, Greenwood, during Freedom Summer, 1964. He had "marched off to fight my generation's battles in the same invincible spirit with which 20-year-olds do most everything. And in 1964, it seemed, everybody was 20 years old, and united in opposition to racial segregation and all its evils." Kline's job in Greenwood was to register voters for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, to which all were welcome regardless of race. Adam Kline was one of a dozen or so volunteers in Greenwood with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC.
Back to college at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and still in the spirit, "I decided to take that year off from study and work in an SDS-sponsored organizing project in East Baltimore's slums. (Remember SDS--Students for a Democratic Society? We were radical, we were belligerent, and sometimes we were self-righteous. But you know something? By and large, we were right.) It was a year well spent for a young man interested in social policy, and the lessons I learned are still with me."
After Johns Hopkins, Kline became a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, and then law school, all in Baltimore.
In Seattle, Kline took a job with what's now Columbia Legal Services, and spent the next three years representing people who were indigent and who needed legal help.
- For some of that time, I represented the residents of our state's six institutions for the developmentally disabled. That was an eye-opening experience, to see the conditions under which we kept people who were born disabled. They weren't much better off than prisoners in jails.
Politics and activism
Kline was a lawyer in private practice in Seattle until he retired in 2004. He volunteered as a pro bono lawyer for the ACLU, was a co-founder and chair of Washington Conservation Voter's local chapter; was a board member and chair of the political-action committee of NARAL, the pro-choice advocacy group; and as a member of the Legislative Committee of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. For many years, he was active in Mothers Against Drunk Driving, both as its unofficial lobbyist in Olympia and later as its Seattle chapter president.
Supported Progressive Health Care Reform
In late 2009, Adam Kline was one of more than 1,000 state legislators to sign a letter entitled "State Legislators for Progressive Health Care Reform". The letter was a project of the Progressive States Network and was developed in consultation with national health care reform advocates, including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Community Catalyst, Families USA, Herndon Alliance, National Women's Law Center, Northeast Action, SEIU, and Universal Health Care Action Network. The letter reads in part,
- "Failure to pass national comprehensive health reform now will further jeopardize state and local budgets, undermining public services like education, public safety, and transportation infrastructure... We, the undersigned, call on President Obama and the Congress to enact bold and comprehensive health care reform this year – based on these principles and a strong federal-state collaboration – and pledge our support as state legislators and allies in pursuit of guaranteed, high quality, affordable health care for all."
- Official Washington State Senate bio (accessed May 6, 2010)
- Progressive States Network: State Legislators for Progressive Health Care Reform (accessed on Dec. 23, 2010)