Nadine Strossen: Rating the Presidential Candidates on Civil Liberties

Nadine Strossen has written, lectured, and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights. From 1991 through 2008 she served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Professor Strossen retains leadership positions with the ACLU as a member of its National Advisory Council and Co-Chair of its Campaign for the Future.

The National Law Journal has twice named Professor Strossen one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.” In 1996, Working Woman Magazine listed her among the “350 Women Who Changed the World 1976–1996.” In 1997, Upside Magazine included her in the “Elite 100: 100 Executives Leading The Digital Revolution.” In 1998, Vanity Fair Magazine included Professor Strossen in “America’s 200 Most Influential Women.” In 1999, Ladies’ Home Journal included her in “America’s 100 Most Important Women.” In 2005, Professor Strossen was honored by the University of Tulsa College of Law and the Tulsa Law Review, which made her scholarly work the subject of their Fifth Annual Legal Scholarship Symposium titled “Nadine Strossen: Scholar as Activist.”

Professor Strossen’s writings have been published in many scholarly and general interest publications (more than 250 published works). Her book, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights (Scribner, 1995), was named by The New York Times as a “Notable Book” of 1995 and was republished in 2000 by NYU Press, with a new introduction by the author. Her coauthored book, Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties (NYU Press, 1995), was named an “outstanding book” by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America.

Professor Strossen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College (1972) and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School (1975), where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Before becoming a law professor, she practiced law for nine years in Minneapolis (her hometown) and New York City.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Nadine Strossen:  I really can't speak broadly on…and I don’t mean to disappoint you, but I am… part of the reason why I don’t follow their positions in detail…there are two reasons, one is I know that on most of the issues, most of them are not good and I just can’t remember… I mean the candidates that have been a affirmatively good on civil liberties are always very obscure candidates. I would say on the whole Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul have on the whole been the best on the most civil liberties and I sort of have come to take for granted that mainstream candidates who are seeking their party's endorsement or the national vote, feel that they have to capitulate overall on civil liberties issues. I mean the last Democratic president we had and I constantly amazed that he is always bashed as is his wife for being so liberal, when to me, they were…I mean and liberal has been equated with ACLU inaccurately, but that goes back to at least George Bush against Michael Ducacus[Phonetic]. You know that Clinton even during these days of his candidacy that Hillary is now going through, do you remember how he…or you were too young…but some in the audience might remember that he left New Hampshire during high primary campaign season to fly back to Arkansas where he was Governor to preside over the execution of a mentally retarded prisoner and that spoke volumes and then by the way before 09/11, the worst terrorist attack on US soil, was the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and Clinton and his attorney general reacted exactly the same way Bush and his attorney general reacted after 09/11. They passed…pushed through Congress something that was called the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. So, I am sorry if I sound a little bit cynical. I just don’t have very high hopes about anybody who is running for President on the issues of…it used to be war and crime, and it is the still war on drugs and now it is the war on terror. The second reason why…so some are little bit less bad on some issues and some are a little bit less good on some issues. You know McCain would be horrible for reproductive freedom for example, I don’t think he will be good for Supreme Court appointments which by the way that is my single most important issue when I look at a Presidential candidate because…before I get to that, speaking of the three branches of government, the other reason why I am somewhat less focused on the President than a lot of my friends are is because I have this sense that there is a lot of damage that has been done that can only be undone by Congress and it doesn’t really matter who the President is if Congress doesn’t have the will to repeal some of the terrible legislation or to pass some positive legislation.

 

Recorded On: 2/14/08


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