- University of Minnesota Law School, 1988 – 1991.
- Columbia University in the City of New York, 1983 – 1987.
Born in New York City, Kushner obtained an undergraduate degree from Columbia University, where he got involved in protests against apartheid in South Africa. He said he chose the University of Minnesota Law School because he liked Minneapolis. "It had a lot of what a big city has to offer without being a big city," he said.
He also made up his mind he was not going to be a typical attorney. "I thought it would be more beneficial to challenge injustice than to just make money," he said. Kushner set up office space in Larry Leventhal's offices, paying rent by doing work for him.
Leventhal, 69, says that in addition to being an excellent researcher, Kushner has an idealistic streak that reminds him of himself when he was younger. "He's very articulate," Leventhal says of Kushner, adding mischievously, "He's anything but a zombie."
In the early 1990s, Kushner represented A.C. Ford, a Vice Lords gang leader convicted of planning the 1992 murder of Minneapolis police officer Jerry Haaf. Ford got 40 years in prison, and after the trial Kushner continued to assert Ford's innocence. "I still lose sleep over it," he says.
Kushner took on more protest cases and assumed a prominent role in the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, whose activist attorneys take a more political approach than the American Civil Liberties Union. "He's a hell of a lawyer," said Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota, who nonetheless acknowledges that his group approaches cases differently from the guild.
Less well known is Kushner's litigation over prisoner issues, filing suits on behalf of prisoners and their families. "He has been a real dependable advocate, someone we can call on a moment's notice," says Nathaniel Khaliq, president of the St. Paul NAACP.
In December 1988 Keith Ellison, President of the Black American Law Students Association, and two members other protestors were arrested for spray-painting over "racist and anti-Semitic" previously painted on the University of Minnesota campus. The protestors added their own "anti-racist" slogans. Members of the Progressive Student Organization were prominent amongst the appromately 30 protestors.
Anger at Ellison
Keith Ellison held a community meeting Sunday, April 15, 2007, at the Powderhorn Park Building in South Minneapolis to explain his vote on the Iraq War Supplemental Bill. Many in the "peace community" were angry about his vote to fund the war for another year.
When he was introduced, Ellison partisans gave him a standing ovation while many peace activists gently applauded. A sign at the front of the room read, "How will funding the war for another 515 days bring us peace?"
Ellison admitted that the vote was very hard for him personally. He said he voted for the bill because, for the first time, a congressional bill set an exit date from Iraq. "It is more different to govern than it is to be in the opposition. A majority of Democrats from ‘blue dogs’ (Democrats considered to be conservative) to the Out of Iraq caucus came together under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to successfully challenge Bush’s war without end," Ellison said. Pelosi had promised the Congressional Progressive Caucus an up-or-down vote later on invading Iran, and Ellison expressed confidence in her leadership.
Socialist Ty Moore called the Democrats a war party and called on Ellison to break with them--and build an independent movement to bring the war to an end.
Civil rights attorney Jordan Kushner said, "Keith’s vote showed that his loyalty to the Democratic Party exceeded his loyalty to the peace movement. The peace movement was at the base of his campaign. We thought he was one of us when he pledged not to fund the war." Kushner believes Ellison could not have won the DFL endorsement and the DFL primary without the active involvement of the peace community.
Communist Erwin Marquit supported Ellison’s vote. He said we needed to take every opportunity to weaken Bush’s authority. "This is just one step in a strategy to bring the war to an end. But we need to keep the pressure on--outside the halls of Congress," Marquit said. He recalled that in 1972 the Minnesota Legislature passed a resolution telling the state’s attorney general not to send any Minnesota National Guard members to Vietnam. The state Supreme Court later overruled that resolution. "The important thing is this kind of struggle keeps pressure on and empowers the antiwar movement," Marquit said.
RNC Welcoming Committee
In the aftermath of the Republican National Convention — and the arrests of more than 800 protesters, journalists and bystanders in the Twin Cities — Max and seven others, the alleged ringleaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee, have been charged with conspiracy to commit riot in the furtherance of terrorism.
Max Specktor was being held in the Ramsey County jail. He was kept in solitary confinement for more than two days. At the arraignment, the prosecutor asked for $75,000 bail; but Larry Leventhal, his attorney, successfully argued that the amount was excessive and the judge reduced it to $10,000.
Bruce Nestor, attorney for Max Specktor's codefendant Monica Bicking and president of the Minnesota branch of the National Lawyers Guild, acted as the press conference emcee. Max and three of his codefendants — Luce Guillen-Givens, Nathanael Secor and Rob Czernik — were present, along with three lawyers, Nestor, Leventhal and Jordan Kushner.
Mordecai Specktor spoke at the press conference, as did Klea Fitzgerald, mother of Garrett Fitzgerald, one of the eight defendants; Max's other co-defendants, Erik Oseland, Eryn Trimmer, Bicking and Fitzgerald, were not in attendance.
January 2009, a group of about 40 protesters on Tuesday afternoon took over Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Minneapolis office, demanding that the Senator take a stand against the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. After two hours, they got a meeting with Senator Klobuchar.
“We are not terrorists! And we are not extremists!” Randy Hammad, a Palestinian American said in a telephone interview with the Daily Planet. Hammad, a resident of Minnesota, was one of the protesters who waited for two hours in the office.
In their meeting, the protesters demanded that Senator Klobuchar and others “condemn Israel’s actions, support immediate ceasefire, stop U.S. financial/military support to Israel, end the blockade and allow humanitarian aid.”
Jordan Kushner, a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer and a longtime political activist was critical of the actions of the Israeli government and the complacency of American legislators, saying, “I don’t think people expected anything from Klobuchar. She is as much in the Israel lobby’s pocket as anyone.”
Meredith Aby, a spokesperson for the Anti-War Committee, like the other protesters, was critical of Klobuchar, “She needs to take a stand for human rights, and not be quiet… her current stance has been to be silent… she has refused to speak out against Israel.”
Hammad argued that Hamas is a democratically elected government in Northern Palestine, and has the same rights to defend and protect its families and children. He added, “as a human rights activist, I am against the killing of civilians on both sides.” He expressed concern that Palestinians in Gaza do not have food, electricity and very limited access to relief organizations.
Because people like him will be sending money to Gaza, Hammad said that he is confident that the FBI will be harassing him and others for “sending money to terrorists.” He asserted, “we are not terrorists nor are we extremists….we just want to protect our defenseless people.”
"How US Support for Israeli Oppression in Palestine Leads to Political Repression at Home"
Wednesday, january 19, 2011, St Joan of Arc Church Minneapolis.
Former Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, peace activist Sarah Martin and civil rights attorney Jordan Kushner will discuss the FBI raids, subpoenas, and suppression of opposition to U.S. support of Israel’s repression of Palestinians
Jordan Kushner is a civil rights lawyer, member of The National Lawyers Guild and member of the Coalition for Palestinian Rights. Jordan has provided the Twin Cities community with advice and legal presentations on the rights of citizens when approached by federal authorities, the role of Federal Grand Juries as tools of the prosecution and the expanded scope of “ Material Support for Terrorism” laws.
CAIR banquet speaker
Some 400 people turned out for the April 2013, 6th Annual Banquet of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN).
The event, themed “Upholding the Constitution, Defending Civil Liberties,” included a silent auction, a networking social, an awards ceremony, and an opportunity to learn about CAIR-MN’s accomplishments in defense of civil rights over the past year.
In her welcome remarks, CAIR-MN Chair Ramla Bile spoke of CAIR-MN’s vision in creating a society in which all Americans are treated with respect and dignity. Senator Amy Klobuchar D-MN) and Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) were special guest speakers. Iowa state Representative Ako Abdul-Samad was the keynote speaker for the event.
The Master of Ceremonies was Phil Duran, incoming President of the Minnesota State Bar Association. The Courage Award was presented to community activist Dr. Richard Johnson and the Justice Works award was presented to attorney Jordan Kushner.
Banquet attendees included community members, leaders of mosques and Muslim organizations, business executives, and interfaith partners. This year’s banquet included 12 sponsors and over 20 table sponsors from local corporations, small businesses, law schools, and nonprofit organizations.
Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Progressive Caucus
In 2010 Jordan Kushner was a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Progressive Caucus Facebook group.
- [Star Tribune, 11 Dec 1988, Sun, Page 37]
- [My Country Tis of Thee, by Keith Ellison page 125]
- [http://www.pulsetc.com/articlef192.html?op=Print&sid=3116,Pulse of the Twin Cities “Keep working with me.”—Congressman Keith EllisonBy webmaster - Date: 2007-04-18 16:17:31 by Phil Willkie - PHIL WILLKIE
- they came for the anarchists ...By Mordecai Specktor 09/16/08]
- [https://www.tcdailyplanet.net/protesters-occupy-klobuchars-office/Daily Planet Protesters occupy Klobuchar’s office By Nekessa (TC Daily Planet) | January 2, 2009]
- CAIR Minnesota website, Sold-Out CAIR-MN Annual Banquet a Success Tuesday, 16 April 2013