Remembering Anthony Lewis

by E. Sebastian Arduengo

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anthony Lewis died this morning. His journalistic career began in the 1950’s and spanned some of the most tumultuous events in American history after the Second World War.

In additional to his accolades as a reporter, Lewis was also a noted First Amendment scholar, authoring two books on the subject and holding the James Madison chair on First Amendment issues at Columbia University since 1982. His work made him a leading voice in the promotion of freedom of the press, and he was often critical of the simplistic assertions of leading politicians, like Ronald Reagan’s denunciation of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” But, people in the era of YouTube might know him better from the movies derived from his incredible reporting.

Obama 'Doubled Downed' with Drones while Notorious Interrogator Apologized

by Peter Jan Honigsberg, professor of law at the University of San Francisco and Director of the Witness to Guantanamo project and author of Our Nation Unhinged, the Human Consequences of the War on Terror

Damien Corsetti was an interrogator at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan in 2002, where, according to The New York Times, he was known as the “King of Torture.”  In 2006, he was prosecuted for alleged abusive treatment he committed while an interrogator, but was acquitted.  Nevertheless, he told our Witness to Guantanamo project that he had mistreated his prisoners.

When he began working in summer 2002, Corsetti believed in what he was doing.  He thought they were all guilty and, like most Americans, he was angry.  He explained how he had obtained information regarding several alleged plots through his interrogations in time for the U.S. to intervene and prevent the incidents from occurring.  He saved American lives.

In the months that followed, however, he and other interrogators began to have doubts about their work. They asked a Judge Advocate General, or JAG lawyer, for advice.  The JAG attorney assured them that their actions were legal because the Bush administration had decided not to adhere to the Geneva Conventions. After hearing the JAG assessment, Corsetti felt obligated to follow orders.

Corsetti told us how he would hood prisoners, tighten the cord at the neck, and then pour water over the hood.  The process wasn’t quite the same as “waterboarding,” but the detainees did experience the sensation of drowning or suffocating.

He forced prisoners into extremely uncomfortable and awkward “stress positions” for hours.  He noted how the military later renamed the term “stress positions” to “safety positions,” explaining that the safety positions were for the safety of the interrogators and the military personnel on the base, not the detainees.

Toward a More Perfect Union: A Progressive Blueprint for the Second Term

“Toward a More Perfect Union: A Progressive Blueprint for the Second Term” is a series of ACS Issue Briefs offering ideas and proposals that we hope the administration will consider in its second term to advance a vision consistent with the progressive themes President Obama raised in his second Inaugural Address. The series should also be useful for those in and outside the ACS network – to help inform and spark discussion and debate on an array of pressing public policy concerns. The series covers a wide range of issue areas, including immigration reform, campaign finance, climate change, criminal justice reform, and judicial nominations.

  1. Reinvigorating the Federal Pardon Process: What the President Can Learn from the States by Margaret Colgate Love (released January 24, 2013)

  2. Toward a Sustainable Future: An Environmental Agenda for the Second Term of the Obama Administration by David Uhlmann (released January 24, 2013)

  3. Is Our Dysfunctional Process for Filling Judicial Vacancies an Insoluble Problem? by Russell Wheeler (released January 24, 2013)

  4. Homeland Security and the Post-9/11 Era by P.J. Crowley (released February 6, 2013) 

  5. We Are in this Together: The Rule of Law, the Commerce Clause, and the Enhancement of Liberty Through Mutual Aid by Anne Marie Lofaso (released February 6, 2013) 

  6. What Process is Due?: A Return to Core Constitutional Principles in Immigration Reform by Aarti Kohli  (released February 6, 2013) 

  7. Assessing the Indigent Defense System by Erica J. Hashimoto (released February 20, 2013) 

  8. Defending Twentieth Century Equal Employment Reforms in the Twenty-First Century by Cyrus Mehri and Ellen Eardley (released February 20, 2013) 

  9. The FEC: The Failure to Enforce Commission by Fred Wertheimer and Don Simon (released February 20, 2013) 

Charting the Course of Reproductive Rights, Forty Years on

by E. Sebastian Arduengo
This month in the American Journal of Public Health, Lynn Paltrow, President of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, published an article paralleling women’s deteriorating access to reproductive care with the system of mass incarceration described in Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow. In the article, Paltrow argues that Roe v. Wade protects the rights of all pregnant women and, if the trajectory of the law is unchanged, women who make decisions that are even unintentionally adverse to their pregnancies will likely end up in jail.
A recent study conducted by National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) found that between the time Roe was decided in 1973 and 2005 there were 413 criminal and civil cases involving the arrest or detention of pregnant women. The analysis of the cases showed that the legal claims used to justify these deprivations of liberty were founded on arguments that the state should be empowered to treat embryos and even fertilized eggs as legally separate from the mother. The study showed that the anti-abortion measures that were the basis of these prosecutions posed a threat to all pregnant women, not just those seeking abortions. For example, when a woman in Utah gave birth   to twins, one of whom was stillborn, she was arrested and charged with homicide on the grounds that her decision to attempt a natural birth instead of a cesarean section resulted in the death of the fetus. Another pregnant woman in Texas smoked marijuana to ease herself through pregnancy and, after giving birth, was charged with delivering a controlled substance to a minor. NAPW’s study also found that for minority women the chances of having a run-in with the law due to a pregnancy are much higher.
As “personhood” measures advance through statehouses across the county, legislators are answering the question of whether a woman’s civil rights end during pregnancy with a resounding “yes.” What’s more, those rights are coming to an end at earlier and earlier points in pregnancy.

Reproductive Rights in the 40 Years Since Roe

ACS, the National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America hosted a panel discussion on Jan. 23 on the progress made in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade and the challenges that remain in protecting the Constitution’s commitment to individual freedom and dignity. Visit the new ACS Reproductive Rights Resource Page for more valuable information on the topic. View a webcast of the event here.

Rising Lawyers Inspired at 2013 Student Convention

ACS’s inaugural Student Convention, hosted this year at Stanford Law School, was a huge success. We had an incredibly impressive lineup that included featured speakers Justice Goodwin Liu, Pamela Karlan, Steve Bright and many more legal experts. You can take a look at the full schedule here.

Explore Videos from the 2013 National Convention

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Gov. Martin O'Malley, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. John Lewis, DOJ’s Tony West and other esteemed guests addressed the 2013 ACS National Convention. You can hear their words and more by exploring our video collection.

ACS Boston Lawyer Chapter to Host Event, ‘Enough Dead Children From Gun Violence’

January 11, 2013

ACS Boston Lawyer Chapter to Host Event, ‘Enough Dead Children From Gun Violence’
Featured Speaker, John E. Rosenthal, to Explore Initiatives to Curb Violence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                            CONTACT: Sharmila Murthy
Jan. 11, 2013                                                               [email protected]
WHAT: As the Obama administration and state lawmakers, such as N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are vowing to take action against gun violence in the nation, the Boston Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy will host an event exploring initiatives lawmakers could pursue to curb gun-related violence. The event, “Enough Dead Children From Gun Violence,” will feature a keynote address from John E. Rosenthal, founder of the group, Stop Handgun Violence.
·          John E. Rosenthal, founder, Stop Handgun Violence; president, Meredith Management; founder, Friends of Boston’s Homeless; member, Board of Advisors, ACS Boston Lawyer Chapter.
WHEN:  Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
WHERE:  Petit Robert Central, 34 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02110
RSVP: The event is free to media but please RSVP to [email protected]
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), founded in 2001 and one of the nation's leading progressive legal organizations, is a rapidly growing network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges, policymakers and other concerned individuals. For more information about the organization or to locate one of the more than 200 lawyer and law student chapters in 47 states and the District of Columbia, please visit

Dispatches from the War on Christmas


The War on Christmas continues to be annual topic of debate, but is there any real legal questions surrounding the public celebration of the holidays? Boston University's Jay Wexler discusses the legal situation and explains why Christmas trees are somehow secular objects.
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