Burt Neuborne: When at Times the Mob is Swayed

By December 1, 2019 December 2nd, 2019 No Comments

Drawing on my 55 years as a civil liberties lawyer (I appeared in my first Supreme Court case in 1967), I will attempt to assess the strength of our democratic institutions to withstand the intense pressures placed on them by politicians who seek to gain and retain political power by unleashing divisive rhetoric exploiting fear, envy, bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia. I conclude in my new book, “When at Times the Mob is Swayed,” that there is no institutional deus ex machina in the sky that can save American democracy if the people fail to defend it at the polls. While, I argue, our institutions can resist the erosion of democratic ideals, only the people can preserve them..

About Burt

This is my 48th year on the faculty of NYU Law School, where I am the Norman Dorsen Professor in Civil Liberties. I served as National Legal Director of the ACLU during the Reagan Presidency and am the founding Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice (emeritus). As a young ACLU lawyer, I challenged the constitutionality of the undeclared war in Vietnam. I have appeared in more than 200 cases in the United States Supreme Court, including the Pentagon Papers, the flag burning cases, and, most recently, the unsuccessful attack on partisan gerrymandering. Beginning in 1996, I served as principal counsel in a series of cases against Swiss banks and German corporations seeking restitution for victims of the Holocaust resulting in the distribution of almost $8 billion to victims. In 2001, I was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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