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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Governor, university president to speak at ADL

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: News

President Fred Lawrence will join Governor Deval Patrick, Elie Wisel and ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman on Monday for a discussion in Boston on anti-Semitism.

Lawrence previously chaired the ADL’s national legal committee and had been a prominent civil rights activist before he came to Brandeis. As dean of George Washington University Law School, he focused research on free speech and social activism.

“My work in ADL, as a National Commissioner and a former chair of the National Legal Affairs Committee, has focused on combating hate crimes and discrimination, and protecting religious liberty and free expression,” Lawrence wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot.

The Anti-Defamation League works “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” according to the organization’s charter, signed in 1913. It is one of America’s “premiere civil rights/human relations” agencies and though it has recently come under fire for controversial support of Israel, the league has been instrumental in prosecuting hate speech in the Supreme Court.

Lawrence has long been involved with social justice. He was head of the civil rights unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and performed scholarly work at Boston and George Washington universities. His Yale law school classmates include Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor and Brandeis professor Anita Hill.

A member of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Hate Crimes Task Force, appointee to the regional ADL board and chairman of the ADL’s National Legal Affairs Committee, Lawrence has co-authored amicus curiae briefs that have been submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Anti-Defamation League.

Lawrence said he believes that his scholarly work could have more of an impact than his work as a lawyer. He says that college campuses are important venues of hate crime discussion and that Brandeis’ sense of social justice is particularly conducive.

“In many ways, these are aspects of the social justice mission at Brandeis and I knew that my work on these issues would find a welcome home here,” Lawrence wrote.