Professor David Cole to Receive ACLU Foundation Award for Lifetime Commitment to Civil Liberties

January 31, 2013 —

Professor David Cole Professor David Cole

Georgetown University Law Center Professor David Cole has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Norman Dorsen Presidential Prize by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation. Cole will receive the award at the ACLU Biennial Leadership Conference in June.

“I am a great admirer of Norman Dorsen and the ACLU, and all they have done to keep civil liberties strong in the United States, so I’m especially honored to be chosen for this award,” said Cole.  

Established in 2013, the Norman Dorsen Presidential Prize is presented to a full-time academic in any discipline for “outstanding contributions to civil liberties.” It is one of only two awards that the national ACLU presents each year, the other being the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty. The award comes with a $10,000 stipend.

Norman Dorsen, in whose name the award was established, served as ACLU general counsel from 1969 to 1976 and ACLU president from 1976 to 1991. He has written 15 books on constitutional law and human rights, and briefed and argued many important civil liberties cases before the Supreme Court. He is the Stokes Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, where he has taught and directed the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program since 1961.

Cole teaches constitutional law, national security and criminal justice at Georgetown Law. He is also a volunteer attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. He has published widely in law journals, newspapers and magazines, and is the author of seven books.  His second book, Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism, was honored with the American Book Award. 

Cole has litigated many significant constitutional cases in the Supreme Court, including Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman, which extended First Amendment protection to flag burners; National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley, which challenged “decency” restrictions on NEA arts grants; and in 2010, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, which challenged the criminalization of human rights advocacy as “material support” to “terrorist” groups. He has litigated many of the nation’s most important cases involving civil liberties and national security, including the case that declared the anti-Communist McCarran-Walter Act unconstitutional, and a damages suit of Canadian citizen Maher Arar, who U.S. officials rendered to Syria where he was tortured.

New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis has called Cole “one of the country’s great voices for civil liberties today.”