2010 Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) President’s Reception – Speech Notes – PDF

2010 CCR President’s Reception Speech Notes

Hello and Welcome. I’m Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights

Thank you for coming to CCR’s President’s Reception.

Its our thank you for your support throughout the year –­and honor those who have made a special difference to our work

Tonight we’ll recognize Holly Myers and Kirk Neely;

our friends in the Vulcan Society; and the law firms of Levy Ratner and

Scott & Scott and our board chair Greg Finger

I am proud to be here as pres of this aggressive, progressive, unstoppable organization—

Almost 45 years after its founding —CCR remains strong and continues its remarkable work —

Sometimes, as organizations age—like people, moderate views and get comfortable—not ccr—

Issues not all the same as 40 years ago—although some are constants—war (diff country), attacks on dissent, need for prot. of fundamental democ rights–­Issues of race, gender and poverty —

But despite different times —CCR’s belief remains as to how we make change—

By working with progressive social organizations

+ and fighting for democratic rights—

(it’s the struggle we came out of and the struggle we are in today)

I always believed that it is key for the generation I represent to make sure new

leaders, un- diluted politics and boldness remain at the core of CCR—

That is how we insure our future as a “splendid band of tigerish people”—

Proud we have done so—directors: vince bill annette kevi carolyn—and staff—

amazing—everywhere—and some are even here—stand

And our board—greg and cathy—and others —

Tonight–A bit of a report card—by no means comprehensive—a sampling –go to web

Remarkable significant victories and cases this year—

1. Sure all familiar with Acorn—at one time largest progressive grassroots organization in the country—attacked bitterly by opponents—

Then cong —joined in a and without a trial or hearing—said no more money to acorn—decimated it—(obama)

no one else stepped forward CCR did—historic mission–

And won not once but twice in court —decision saying cutoff an illegal unconst bill of attainder—(jules and appeal)

2.G20 (finance ministers) Pittsburgh—demonstrations—and advice to demonstrators bill q—and train our lawyers and legal workers

Won rights. New techniques — sound machine—

Concerned by issues of dissent—seen since feb Iraq 2003–

2A. vulcans—ending discrimination in nyc fire department on ccrs agenda for many many years; 3% African American in a city 27; analogous for latinos

this year we prevailed—you will hear how—

We honor vulcans and the lawyers who helped us do it

3. Some settlements that are remarkable—courage and staying power One Turkmen related directly to our early work after 9/11

First to jump in as non citizen Muslim, South Asian, and Arab non­citizens were swept up after 9/11

4. Wiwa—got a huge settlement—against Shell—charged it with complicity with human rights abused in Niger Delta including murder of environmental activist ken saro wiwa—

  • sue oil deep pockets—david and goliath story-
  • case took 14 years and never let go —

5. Humanitarian law project v holder—saw david argue in SCT

Can you teach human rights to organization US has claimed are terrorist—or is that somehow giving material aid—decision soon–

So really an extraordinary year— on a number of fronts—

At the same time regarding many of the issues that brought us all the attention since 9/11—those around gitmo, preventive detention, trial by military commission, torture—the last year has been difficult and disappointing—

Last year Vince and I talked about what we had wanted in the first hundred days of the Obama administration on these issues (ambitious)—well now its over a year—and the goals we set forth have not been met

In fact—some of the deprivations of democratic rights are becoming permanent fixtures of our landscape—

Preventive detention—without charges and trial has been endorsed for some gitmo detainees and others—no place for that in a justice scheme that is just

Military commissions—rump trials where the rules made up after the fact —are being employed for some gitmo detainees—

Closing of Gitmo—and I mean really closing it—O failed to meet one year—

And many many innocent remain imprisoned for over 8 years

(Continue our work—free one by one)

State secrets—still asserts —no real change

Rendition remains a practice—fight our Arar case–

Accountability for torture—none—believe ness to insure not happen again

Tried everything—still trying

Importance of Spanish intervention—Spain—-Berlin

Our goal on these issues —is to continue to fight—rollback the national security state—-its going to be a long arduous struggle

In closing —I want to mention a memorable event we had in this room less than 2 weeks ago—

We marked the establishment of the Copelon fund for Gender Justice—Est by Rhonda Copelon—VP–bd —staff with me—

Rhonda, who is quite ill, gave one of the more moving talks I have ever heard—

—a couple of sentences from the talk—

“I think you understand why I am doing it at CCR—(setting up the fund) –because I feel that CCR is an open organization, that there is leadership that really cares about gender issues–

I have indicated I have some priorities about that…one is the challenges to fundamentalism. Another is intersectional, which means that we look at women from all different perspectives, and we also look at gender as a sexual identity issue, which I consider to be —

And I also think that the social and economic rights are critical– you start to look at the gender dimensions of the social/economic rights, poverty struggles we’re having here and abroad; they’re there, but they don’t set seen.

Within CCR, the fund will help people seeking gender dimensions in what they’re doing; we can actually take on work and have really a beautiful mix. CCR will I hope influence the human rights field in this direction—”

Thank you Rhonda

and thank you all—


Alice mcgrath