Center for American Progress

Dealing With Darfur: John D. Podesta Delivers the Yale Harper Fowler Lecture at Yale Law School

Dealing With Darfur: John D. Podesta Delivers the Yale Harper Fowler Lecture at Yale Law School


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Thank you so much.

I must tell you that, as an attorney and someone who now teaches law. It is truly an honor to be at Yale.

Because, in so many ways, Harper Fowler was the personification of a progressive legal scholar.

Today, I think he’s best remembered for his role in the Griswold case.

But, in fact, his entire career–as an attorney, as a member of the Roosevelt administration, as a respected academic – is the story of a lawyer who understood that, at the end of the day, the purpose of the law must never be to sustain the status quo, but to always–always – advance the cause of justice.

Having been around here for the weekend and having had the pleasure of meeting so many students, I know that is the reason why so many of you chose to study law.
I know it is the reason I did.

My specialty became the intersection of high technology and protecting civil liberties as well as challenging government secrecy.

Many friends of mine have used their legal training in other areas.

But regardless of where we ended up, what inspired many of us was that we had seen how activist lawyers helped tear down the walls of racial segregation, put us on the path to gender equality and created the modern environmental movement.

And, in that process, they helped make America a better, fairer, more decent nation.
They believed, as Martin Luther King once observed, that: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

He said that back in 1967. At the time I don’t think any of us realized just how long that arc would be.

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