David Cole is the Honorable George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and ­Public Policy at the Georgetown University Law Center. In January he will become the National Legal Director of the ACLU.
 (October 2016)


After Dallas

A prayer vigil following the shooting of five police officers, Dallas, Texas, July 8, 2016

It is the “war” on crime itself that is most to blame. More than any other nation in the world, we turn to the state-sanctioned compulsion of the criminal justice system to “solve” social problems. Our “first responders” are too often the police, bearing handcuffs and guns rather than public assistance or life support.

The Terror of Our Guns

An AR-15 rifle, an assault weapon similar to the one used by Omar Mateen in the June 12 shooting in Orlando, on display at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016

The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture

by Pamela Haag

Guns Across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights

by Robert J. Spitzer
The long tradition of gun regulations almost certainly means that the Supreme Court will not construe the Second Amendment to invalidate most gun laws on the books today, but that simply leaves the matter to the political process, where the NRA is plainly winning. If history is any guide, it will succeed in thwarting any new gun control initiative prompted by the Orlando massacre.


How Voting Rights Are Being Rigged

Voters waiting in line to cast early ballots, Cleveland, Ohio, November 2012

Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

by Ari Berman

The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy

by Zachary Roth
The United States has long been a democracy divided by race. We are committed in theory to the principle of “one person, one vote,” but in practice our nation has exploited and tolerated deep, structural racial oppression, from slavery to Jim Crow to today’s racial profiling, residential and educational segregation, and red-lining.

The Drone Presidency

Anti-drone graffiti in Sanaa, Yemen, November 2013

Drone: Remote Control Warfare

by Hugh Gusterson

The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program

by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept
Obama has now been at war longer than any other American president, and has overseen the use of military force in seven countries—Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. In the latter four countries, virtually all the force has come in the form of unmanned drones executing suspected terrorists said to be linked to al-Qaeda or its “associated forces.” That an antiwar president has found the drone so tempting ought to be a warning sign.


Police Injustice: How the Court Fails

Though it has just concluded a term in which its rulings have advanced the cause of justice, the Supreme Court continues to approach criminal justice cases without confronting the reality of race-based policing, as in the decision issued in the second-to-last week of the term, Utah v. Strife. As a result, the rules it promulgates too often exacerbate rather than curtail discriminatory law enforcement.

The Affirmative Action Surprise

United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, March 23, 2015

Justice Kennedy’s decision to uphold University of Texas’s affirmative action reflects a more grounded view of society as it is, a willingness to adjust the purely formal elements of abstract doctrine to a world in which race continues to matter. The decision also means that a solid majority of the Court’s justices, even without the justice who will eventually fill Scalia’s seat, understand the importance of considering race in admitting students to our nation’s colleges.

Michael Ratner’s Army

Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, with a report on conditions at the Guantánamo Bay, New York, August 4, 2004

Though it remains open, Guantánamo is, thankfully, a shadow of its former self. The real credit lies with no president, but with the hundreds of lawyers and thousands of activists who have stepped forward to advocate for Guantánamo inmates. And many of these lawyers and activists in turn owe much of their inspiration to one man: the human rights attorney Michael Ratner, who died on May 11.