Burt Neuborne “How Good Are the Brakes on This Train?” with Acadia Senior College and the League of Women Voters
June 25 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Neuborne will talk about the health (or lack thereof) of the constitutional braking mechanisms – a well-functioning representative democracy; the two Bills of Rights protecting autonomy and equality; separation of powers; federalism; and judicial review, which was installed, first, by the original Founders who focused on protecting autonomy, and then the protection of equality added by the post-Civil War Founders designed to slow down runaway democratic trains.
Burt Neuborne is the Norman Dorsen Professor of Civil Liberties and founding Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. For more than 50 years, he has been one of the nation’s foremost civil liberties lawyers, serving as National Legal Director of the ACLU from 1981-86, Special Counsel to the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund from 1990-1996, and as a member of the New York City Human Rights Commission from 1988-1992. He has argued numerous Supreme Court cases, and has litigated literally hundreds of important constitutional cases in the state and federal courts. He challenged the constitutionality of the Vietnam War, pioneered the flag burning cases, worked on the Pentagon Papers case, worked with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she headed the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, anchored the ACLU’s legal program during the Reagan years, and defended the Legal Services program against unconstitutional attacks. From 1995 to 2007, he directed the legal program of the Brennan Center, focusing on efforts to reinforce American democracy and secure campaign finance reform. The Brennan Center was established at NYU in 1994 to honor Justice William Brennan, Jr.’s monumental contribution to American Law.
At the same time, Professor Neuborne has forged a national reputation as a constitutional scholar and teacher. In 1990, he was the recipient of the University-wide Distinguished Teacher Award at New York University for his work in teaching Civil Procedure, Evidence, Federal Courts and Constitutional Law. He is the author of four books and over 20 law review articles on diverse areas of constitutional law and procedure. Among his best known scholarly works is the two-volume Political and Civil Rights in the United States, which he co-authored with NYU colleagues Norman Dorsen and Sylvia Law and the Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, Paul Bender. His 1992 lectures on American law at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona have been translated and published in Spanish. In 2001, in recognition of his scholarship and his work in the courts, Professor Neuborne was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2012, Professor Neuborne delivered nine Jay Iselin memorial lectures at Cooper Union on the American constitution. His most recent book is Madison’s Music: On Reading the First Amendment.” (The New Press, 2015)
In 1996, Professor Neuborne appeared as Jerry Falwell’s lawyer in Milos Forman’s The People v. Larry Flynt. He appeared on Court TV as the principal commentator in the trial of O.J. Simpson.
Since 1996 Professor Neuborne has served as a principal counsel in a series of lawsuits seeking to recover property unjustly taken from Holocaust victims by Swiss banks and German corporations during the Nazi era. The litigation has succeeded in assembling more than $7.5 billion for distribution to 450,000 Holocaust victims and their families throughout the world. Professor Neuborne was appointed by the Court to oversee the $1.25 Swiss bank settlement, and was appointed by the United States to serve on the Board of Trustees of the German Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future,” established to distribute the $5.2 billion settlement in the German slave labor litigation.
Professor Neuborne is married to Helen Redleaf Neuborne.