David D. Cole

Legal Director at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

David D. Cole

David D. Cole

Legal Director at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

Biography

In his role as national legal director, David Cole directs a program that includes approximately 1,400 state and federal lawsuits on a broad range of civil liberties issues. He manages 100 ACLU staff attorneys in New York headquarters, oversees the organization’s U.S. Supreme Court docket, and provides leadership to more than 200 staff attorneys who work in ACLU affiliate offices in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. Another 1,700 volunteer cooperating attorneys throughout the country are engaged in ACLU litigation. With an annual headquarters budget of $140 million and more than 1.5 million members, the ACLU is the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization.

Cole has litigated many constitutional cases in the Supreme Court, including Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman, which extended First Amendment protection to flag burning; Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the ACLU represented a gay couple refused service by a bakery because they sought a cake to celebrate their wedding; and Harris Funeral Homes v. Stephens, which asked whether Title VII bans discrimination on the basis of transgender status.

Cole’s victories include: successfully defending for over 21 years a group of Palestinian immigrants whom the government sought to deport for their political affiliations; striking down the anti-communist provisions of the Immigration Act; challenging restrictions on federally funded AIDS education; barring Randall Terry and Operation Rescue from blocking access to abortion providers; and freeing several Arab and Muslim immigrants detained on secret evidence. Cole, who began his career at the Center for Constitutional Rights, litigated many of these cases in cooperation with ACLU attorneys across the country.

Cole is on leave from Georgetown University, where he has taught constitutional law and criminal justice since 1990, and is the Hon. George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy. Cole writes regularly for The Nation, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, and many other periodicals. He is the author or editor of 10 books, several of which have won awards, including the Palmer Civil Liberties Prize, the American Book Award, and prizes from the American Political Science Association, the Boston Book Review, and the Jesuit Honor Society. His most recent book, "Engines of Liberty: How Citizen Movements Succeed," published in 2016, examines the strategies civil society organizations employ to change constitutional law.

The late New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis called Cole “one of the country’s great legal voices for civil liberties today,” and the late Nat Hentoff called him “a one-man Committee of Correspondence in the tradition of patriot Sam Adams.” Cole has received two honorary degrees and many awards for his civil liberties and human rights work, including the inaugural Norman Dorsen Presidential Prize from the ACLU, awarded to an academic for lifetime commitment to civil liberties.

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President at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

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Professor of Law at New York Law School

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Director of the Institutional Reform Project at ACLU of Illinois

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Former General Counsel at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

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Executive Director at American Civil Liberties Union of Montana Foundation, Inc.

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Staff Attorney, Human Rights Program at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

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Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

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Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

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Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

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Chief Corporate Counsel at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.

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David D. Cole
Legal Director at American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.
Career History
Legal Director
Current

PRESERVATION AND PROMOTION OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES

Professor, Constitutional Law
Current

Georgetown University Law Center is the law school of Georgetown University, located in Washington, D.C. Established in 1870, the Law Center offers J.D., LL.M., and S.J.D. degrees in law.[5] As the second largest law school in the United States, Georgetown Law often touts the advantages of its wide range of program offerings and proximity to federal agencies and courts, including the Supreme Court

Non-Profit Donations & Grants

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$1,000 - $2,499
2013

MANAGES ENDOWMENT ASSETS AND PROVIDES FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ARCHDIOCESE OF WASHINGTON, AN AFFILIATED ORGANIZATION.

$100 +
2008

The Center for Constitutional Rights, Inc. provides social welfare services. The firm focuses on rights guaranteed by the U.S. constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It uses litigation to protest government misconduct and racial, social, and economic injustice. The company was founded by Morton Stavis, Arthur Kinoy, Ben Smith, and Willaim Kunstler in 1966 and is headquartered in New York, NY.

$100 - $249
2008

RESEARCH AND EDUCATION ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICY ISSUES,ADVOCACY FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM.

Awards & Honors
2012
Washingtonian Magazine - Top Lawyers, Civil Rights
Other Affiliations
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