Area of Expertise
Civil rights and liberties; constitutional law; Supreme Court and federal court appointments and decisions; human rights; legal and constitutional reform in Eastern Europe; prison reform; international prison conditions
Herman Schwartz is a Professor of Law Emeritus at American University Washington College of Law. Throughout a long career in academia, publishing and community service, he has focused his attention and the world's on issues of civil rights and civil liberties as they have played out in courts and prisons across the globe. He has worked with the United Nations, the human rights advocacy group Helsinki Watch, the U.S./Israel Civil Liberties Law Program (which he founded), the ACLU Prison Project (which he founded), Washington College of Law's Human Rights Center and other organizations. In May 2006 he was awarded the 2006 Champion of Justice Award by the Alliance for Justice. Schwartz's special interest in recent years has been the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. He has served as an adviser to numerous Central and Eastern European nations, as well as former Soviet Union nations, on constitutional and human rights reform; recently he has been called up on to comment and advise on constitutional reform in Afghanistan, Iraq and several African countries. He also co-chaired a project on transitional justice in emerging democracies. He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of the Open Society Institute Justice Initiative. Current work includes hunger issues and particularly the expansion of programs for school children during the summer. Schwartz formerly chaired the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, and has developed a course in which students work with national and local public interest organizations that deal with poverty issues. He also is continuing to pursue a lifelong interest in the operations of America's courts, and frequently is called upon to analyze and write about Supreme Court decisions. He has published Right Wing Justice: The Conservative Campaign to Take Over the Courts (May 2004), a study of the judgeship controversies since Ronald Reagan. From 1963 to 1976, Schwartz was heavily involved in studying and monitoring New York State's criminal justice system. During the tragic inmate uprising at Attica State Prison in 1971, he served as the first intermediary between the prisoners and the prison administration, and represented numerous prisoners thereafter, founded the ACLU Prison Project and argued two cases in the Supreme Court relating to prisoners rights. Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, he was active in civil rights and civil liberties litigation and advocacy, serving as chief counsel in school desegregation cases in the North and the South. He was also the ACLU expert on the law and policy of electronic surveillance and the author of numerous studies of the operation of the wiretap laws. Schwartz has authored three books: Right-Wing Justice: The Conservative Campaign to Take over the Courts (May 2004), The Struggle for Constitutional Justice in Post-Communist Europe (2000) and Packing the Courts: The Conservative Campaign to Rewrite the Constitution (1988); edited and contributed to The Rehnquist Court: Judicial Activism on the Right (2002), and The Burger Years Rights and Wrongs in the Supreme Court 1969-1986 (1987). He has written numerous reports, articles, chapters and scholarly papers. His work on the frontiers of civil rights and civil liberties has been recognized with such honors as the 2006 “Champion of Justice” award from the Alliance for Justice, a Citation of Appreciation by the Common Council of the City of Buffalo, an American Jewish Congress - Washington Capital area award, the William Conable Award for Civil Rights, the Citizens Counsel for Human Rights Award and The ACLU-Niagara Frontier Award for Civil Liberties. His undergraduate degree is from Harvard University, magna cum laude, and his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude. For most of his professional career he has been a professor of law. He has also served in state and federal government, including service as Chief Counsel of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, and Chief Counsel for Revenue Sharing, U.S. Treasury.