Marjorie Cohn

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Marjorie Cohn

Marjorie Cohn is a San Diego activist.

Marjorie Cohn (A.B., 1970 Stanford University), active in the April 3rd Movement as a student, Professor of Law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild.

1989 Stanford Peace Movement reunion

On May 7, 1989, some 50 or 60 veterans of the Stanford anti-war movement wound their way into the basement of the Applied Electronics Laboratory building, site of their nine-day sit-in against secret military research a little more than twenty years ago. The AEL print shop, from which protesters produced nearly a million sheets of political literature, was gone, replaced by simple offices in the new age of laser printers and high speed copiers.

We gathered again outside the building to hear Paul Rupert tell how a fictional call to his mother in April, 1969 quelled university president Kenneth Pitzer's from-the-floor-microphone attempt to sidetrack the sit-in.

At the first afternoon panel, Clayborne Carson, David Harris, David Ransom, and Marjorie Cohn traced the development of the Stanford peace movement from the birth of SNCC in the south to the demonstrations of spring, 1969. David Ransom's talk, excerpted later in this booklet, described the multi-year strategy, tactics, and techniques that culminated in the AEL sit-in and the blockade of SRI's counterinsurgency labs in the Stanford Industrial Park.[1]

International Association of Democratic Lawyers

Marjorie Cohn (US) serves on the board of the old Soviet front organization, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.[2].

Legal activism

Marjorie Cohn is a former president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She is the author of "Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law" and co-author of "Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice." Her newest book is "Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent" (with Kathleen Gilberd). Her anthology, "The United States of Torture: America's Past and Present Policy of Interrogation and Abuse," will be published in fall 2010 by NYU Press.

Professor Cohn is a criminal defense attorney and she publishes extensively in the academic and popular press about criminal justice, U.S. foreign policy, and human rights. Professor Cohn provides commentary for local, regional, national, and international media. A judge on the International Tribunal of Conscience in Support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange, she also testified in 2008 about Bush administration torture policy before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. She is the 2008 recipient of the Peace Scholar of the Year Award[3].

She lectures throughout the world on international human rights and U.S. foreign policy. A news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, she also provides legal and political commentary on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, Air America and Pacifica Radio.

In addition, Professor Cohn is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. Her latest book, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, was published in January 2011 by NYU Press.

Her articles have appeared in numerous journals such as Fordham Law Review, Hastings Law Journal and Virginia Journal of International Law, as well as The National Law Journal, Christian Science Monitor and Chicago Tribune. Professor Cohn is a contributing editor to Jurist, MWC News and National Lawyers Guild Review, and her frequent columns appear on Huffington Post, Truthout, AlterNet, CommonDreams, Counterpunch, OpedNews, AtlanticFreePress, ZNet, and GlobalResearch.

She has been a criminal defense attorney at the trial and appellate levels for many years, and was staff counsel to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board. Professor Cohn is the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the Association of American Jurists and is deputy secretary general of the Bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Professor Cohn sits on the Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers, the Advisory Board of the U.S. Human Rights Network, the Board of Directors of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, and the Board of Directors of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign. She is also a civilian member of the board of GI Voice. Professor Cohn testified in 2008 about government torture policy before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and she has testified at military courts-martial about the illegality of the wars, the duty to obey lawful orders, and the duty to disobey unlawful orders.

She lived in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish. Professor Cohn has taught at Thomas Jefferson since 1991.[4]

Foreign delegations

Cohne was a legal observer in Iran on behalf of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers in 1978 and she has participated in delegations to Cuba, China and Yugoslavia.[5]

NLG pressure to impeach President Bush

The National Lawyers Guild voted unanimously and enthusiastically for a resolution calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush and frites Cheney at their national convention in Washington, DC on November 2, 2007.

The resolution listed more than a dozen high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush and Cheney administration and "calls upon the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately initiate impeachment proceedings, to investigate the charges, and if the investigation supports the charges, to vote to impeach George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney as provided in the Constitution of the United States of America."

National Lawyers Guild President Marjorie Cohn and Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner were among more than a dozen cosponsors. In a news release about the resolution issued by the NLG Marjorie Cohn said,

"the war of aggression, the secret prisons, the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the use of evidence obtained by torture, and the surveillance of citizens without warrants, all initiated and carried out under the tenure of Bush and Cheney, are interesting under the U.S. Constitution and international law."

The resolution provides for an NLG Impeachment Committee open to all members that will help organize and coordinate events at the local, state, and national level to build public participation in the campaign to initiate impeachment investigation, impeachment, and removal of Bush and Cheney from office without further delay. NLG members wishing to participate in launching this committee should immediately contact Ian Head in the National Office at "

The resolution also called on all other state and national bar associations, state and local government bodies, community organizations, labor unions, and all other citizen associations to adopt similar resolutions and to use all their resources to build the campaign.

Passage of the resolution followed two events with John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, during the convention. First was a House Judiciary Committee Public Policy Forum on failure of the Bush/Cheney regime to observe international law. NLG members Marjorie Cohn, Jeanne Mirer, John Quigley, and Peter Weiss testified in the Judiciary Committee hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building. Jeanne Mirer, Secretary General of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, took the floor toward the very end of the hearing to say that a remedy is needed, that the remedy is clearly provided in the US constitution, and that this committee has the authority to get that process going. Conyers, who chaired the forum, asked her to repeat that point to make sure it was included in the record. He said that he would be holding further hearings and invited the speakers to return to testify on that remedy, impeachment.

A couple of hours after that forum ended Congressman Conyers arrived at the convention to give his keynote address and answer questions before the 400 lawyers and legal workers in attendance. Former NLG president Michael Avery was first to line up at the microphone and asked Conyers what the NLG could do to help Conyers decide to initiate impeachment investigation of Bush and Cheney. Speaker after speaker pressed Conyers to take action on impeachment, many receiving thunderous applause. Although he remained non-committal, Conyers said he would like to participate in a series of public policy forums around the country that he said could consider the interesting actions by Bush and Cheney and that these forums could lead to the ultimate step of the double impeachment. He suggested that we can only expect Congressional action to follow establishment of a widespread public campaign visibly demanding impeachment.[6]

Open Letter to Obama on Iran

In 2008 Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild, San Diego, CA signed an online petition “A Open Letter to Barack Obama on Iran”.

"Support Bill Ayers"

In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement Support Bill Ayers in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.

In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.

We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.

Marjorie Cohn of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law signed the statement.[7]

Advisory Board Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center

As at Winter, 2008, the following served on the Advisory Board of the Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center:

In Memoriam:

U.S. Human Rights Network

Cohn serves on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Human Rights Network.[8]

Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign

In 2012 Marjorie Cohn served on the Board of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.[9]

Supporting Bradley Manning

On Day 4 of global days of solidarity and support for alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, Pfc. Bradley Manning, "San Diego activists & advocates of peace & transparency will take to the streets for a protest and rally calling for the release and justice in the case of this brave young hero or scapegoat and to make our voices heard that EXPOSING WAR CRIMES IS NOT A CRIME! TRUTH IS ESSENTIAL TO DEMOCRACY!"

September 19th, Horton Plaza, San Diego. Speakers were;

On May 8, 2011 Loraine Reitman and Marjorie Cohn gave a lecture at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Diego, "Just What is Cruel and Unusual Punishment?", sponsored by Activist San Diego for Networking for Social Justice. This lecture was in support of U.S. Army Pfc Bradley Manning, he has been accused of leaking classified information to Wiki leaks. [11]