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Defending Liberty in the Age of Trump:Lessons from the Front

The ACLU has been at the forefront of the defense of liberty in the age of Donald Trump. What does the first year of fighting for liberty tell us about constitutional law and the future of civil liberties and rights in the US?

Defending Liberty in the Age of Trump: Lessons from the Front

A Lecture with David Cole, LAW '84

David Cole was named National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union in 2016. He oversees approximately 1,400 civil liberties lawsuits, both state and federal, and manages over 300 staff attorneys at ACLU headquarters in New York and affiliate offices in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.

Cole received his J.D. degree from Yale Law School in 1984 and served as a staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights from 1985-1990. In 1990, he began teaching constitutional law and criminal justice at Georgetown University, and was later named the Honorable George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy (he is currently on leave). He continued to litigate major civil liberties cases while a professor. Many of his most notable cases occurred in the Supreme Court: United States v. Eichman (1990), which overthrew federal prohibition of flag desecration; National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley (1998), which contested content restrictions on NEA funding; and Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (2010), which challenged the legality of a provision in the PATRIOT Act prohibiting “material support” to foreign terror organizations. In December 2017, he argued the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case in the Supreme Court.

A prolific author, David Cole has written or edited 10 books. Cole’s first book, "No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System", is one of the first to examine the ways that the criminal justice system exacerbates and exploits racial disparities. It was named Best Non-Fiction Book of 1999 by the Boston Book Review. "Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism", his condemnation of the USA PATRIOT Act, won the American Book Award in 2004. His most recent work, "Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law", deals with the tactics employed by civil liberty activism to change constitutional law. Cole also regularly writes for periodicals, including The Nation, New York Review of Books, and The Washington Post. He has received two honorary degrees and many awards for his civil liberties and human rights work, including, in 2013, the inaugural Normen Dorsen Presidential Prize from the ACLU, awarded to an academic for lifetime commitment to civil liberties.

February 22, 2018


Chevron Auditorium of International House at 2299 Piedmont Ave, Berkeley, CA 94720

*This Event is Free and Open to the Public*

For more information please visit the UC Berkeley Graduate Lectures website (http://gradlectures.berkeley.edu/lecture/defending-liberty-in-the-age-of-trump/).

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Yale Photographs courtesy of Michael Marsland/Yale University
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