Michael Ratner


As a law student at Columbia University in 1968, Michael Ratner found himself pushed to the ground and beaten by the police. Witnessing the bloodied protesters was a crucial moment; Michael proclaimed himself a rebel and knew that he would dedicate his work to struggles for justice and nonviolence. After his clerkship with Judge Constance Baker Motley, he went to work for the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he has served as Legal Director, Vice-president and currently serves as President. The Attica prison revolt began one week after Michael joined CCR; his first federal lawsuit was Attica Brothers v. Rockefeller.

He has worked for decades, as a crusader for human rights both at home and abroad litigating many cases against international human rights violators resulting in millions of dollars in judgments for abuse victims and expanding the possibilities of international law. He acted as a principal counsel in the successful suit to close the camp for HIV-positive Haitian refugees on Guantanamo Base, Cuba. Over the years, he has litigated a dozen cases challenging a Presidentís authority to go to war, without congressional approval. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the Center has focused its efforts on the constitutionality of indefinite detention and the restrictions on civil liberties as defined by the unfolding terms of a permanent war. The Center is currently handling several cases representing detainees held at Camp X- ray in Cuba and the Turkmen case, which involves post 9/11 detainees in the United States.

Other work includes: Lecturer at the Yale Law School where he taught international human rights litigation, and at The Columbia Law School where he currently teaches; President of the National Lawyers Guild; Special Counsel to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to assist in the prosecution of human rights crimes; Author and co-author of several books and numerous articles including: Stephens & Ratner, International Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts (Transnational Publishers, Inc., 1996; Brody and Ratner, The Pinochet Papers (Kluwer 2000); Lobel and Ratner, Bypassing the Security Council: Ambiguous Authorizations to Use Force, Cease Fires, and the Iraqi Inspection Regime, 93 AJIL124 (Janurary 1999).

Among his many honors are: Trial Lawyer of the Year from the Trial lawyers for Public Justice, The Columbia Law School Public Interest Law Foundation Award, and the North Star Community Frederick Douglass Award.

Information taken from Human Rights Now Website: http://www.humanrightsnow.org/short_bio.htm


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