ACLU director speaks at Gould about civil liberties

first_imgDavid Cole, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, visited the USC Gould School of Law on Thursday to speak about the future of civil liberties in the midst of the Trump administration.Formerly a professor of law at Georgetown University, Cole was named as the new national legal director for the ACLU in January. He replaced Steven R. Shapiro, who served as legal director for the ACLU from 1993 to 2016. Cole will now oversee the work of nearly 300 lawyers and lead the ACLU’s efforts in the Supreme Court. For the past 96 years, the ACLU has been involved in nearly every landmark Supreme Court case regarding political expression, freedom of speech or press and the separation of church and state.Professor Nomi Stolzenberg, who has been teaching at the USC Gould School of Law since 1988, moderated the discussion.Stolzenberg said that the executive orders signed by President Donald Trump have the potential to undo Obama administration policies. She asked Cole for the top issues on ACLU’s list.Cole explained that the ACLU will deal with many issues, including reproductive freedom, national security and voting rights. However, immigration will be a priority.Cole discussed Trump’s immigration ban, the legality of the executive order and the ACLU’s plans to fight it. Cole explained that the ACLU is looking to focus on aiding immigrants and those affected by Trump’s executive order. He sees the ban as religious favoritism — or “dis-favoritism” — which he claims is nonsensical in the context of the Constitution’s establishment clause, which prohibits the government from favoring any one religion.Cole believes that the federal court can only do so much. The true work of the reform, he said, lies with the citizens who are impassioned by the issues and want to see change. Some part of this change comes from supporting organizations like the ACLU.Over the course of a decade, the ACLU has grown to over one million members. Since Trump’s election, it has received one million online donations that average about $79 each.“People want to engage,” Cole said.The only viable way to stop Trump’s series of executive actions, Cole believes, is for citizens to band together and continue the activism shown at the women’s marches and airport protests nationwide.“There is a broad swath of people who are showing their concern, and that plays a role in how the courts react,” Cole said.Cole acknowledged that the Trump administration will present many challenges. But public opposition has left him optimistic about the future.“The real moving force of constitutional law is the people, organized through institutions that care about particular constitutional values,” Cole said.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *