Executive Director of the ACLU In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror discusses Congress’ destruction of the “Great Writ,” habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act, which he identifies as the single greatest threat to America’s heritage of liberty and limited government power, widespread electronic spying on American citizens, how even John Ashcroft opposed the program.
Anthony D. Romero is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation’s premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. He took the helm of the 87-year-old organization just four days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Shortly after, the ACLU launched its national Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis. Under Romero’s leadership, the ACLU gained court victories on the Patriot Act and filed landmark litigation on the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. Most recently, the ACLU successfully challenged the Bush administration’s illegal spying program.
Romero, an attorney with a history of public-interest activism, has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU’s history and more than doubled the budget and national staff of the organization since he began his tenure. This unprecedented growth has allowed the ACLU to expand its litigation, lobbying and public education efforts, including new initiatives focused on racial justice, religious freedom, privacy, reproductive freedom and lesbian and gay rights.
Romero is the ACLU’s sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. In 2005, Romero was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and has received dozens of public service awards and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law.
Born in New York City to parents who hailed from Puerto Rico, Romero was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He is a graduate of Stanford University Law School and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. He is a member of the New York Bar Association and has sat on numerous nonprofit boards.