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.
Question: What should Americans be most concerned about?
Nadine Strossen: I would say that you need to be concerned about violations of rights that you might think have nothing to do with you because they are only affecting those other people in particular, non-citizens, people who are accused of terrorism, people whose ideas you dislike, people you dislike and so you think what does it matter to me if their rights are being violated. What does it matter if government is invading privacy? Oh, I have nothing to hide. Why should I care? My message is you do care. I mean you must care. You have an absolutely profound stake in the government's power and abuse of power because once it can exercise that power against anyone, then no one is safe and I can give you so many examples of people including conservative Republican government officials who said why do we need a Bill of Rights? Why do we need the ACLU to enforce it? You are going to be accused of anything if you are not guilty. Your privacy isn't going to be invaded unless there is some reason to suspect you and then something happens in their lives and they do find themselves on the wrong side of the law unjustifiably. This happened with a couple of people for example in the Regan administration including his attorney general Ed Meese, who was being suspected or investigated for some kind of…I can't remember what it was…some kind of…I don’t even want to say it…but some kind of fraud I believe and he was ultimately never indicted, but he was suspected and suddenly sort of got the civil liberties religion and said when you are on the other side of the law, you suddenly do understand the importance of having these rights. So, I don’t want people to have to reach that point before they understand how essential it is that they never will be in that position.
Recorded On: 2/14/08