Michael Steven Smith, author of Lawyers for the Left: In the Courts, In the Streets, and On the Air on what he describes to be our current “constitutional crisis” on the radio show Leonard Lopate at Large

LEONARD LOPATE: Michael, you write that America is in a constitutional crisis?

MICHAEL STEVEN SMITH: Well I think—and increasingly after 9/11—there’s been a huge agglomeration of power in the hands of the executive branch, irrespective of the creature that holds office today. After 9/11, the congress passed the Patriot Act, as you know, which is a horrible surveillance apparatus, and then the authorization to use military force, and then the National Defense Authorization Act. That act allows for the executive to both kidnap and hold—really, forever—anybody, including American citizens. That was challenged by Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky in federal court; they lost. And it also allows for, and we challenged it at the Center for Constitutional Rights with Al-Aulaqi case, it allows for the United States government to assassinate an American citizen. You can’t get any worse than that, so that’s why I [said] what I did.

LOPATE: Your book collects profiles and interview with lawyers, many of whom that began their careers as progressives in the 1960’s. Do you see a parallel between that era and today?

SMITH: Yes. The book profiles twenty-three different lawyers. Lawyers my age, I’m in my mid-seventies, and then lawyers my parents’ age, who would be in their hundreds now, but they’re not here. And the parallel, I think, is the fight, increasingly difficult, to keep the rule of law and the democratic rights.

Hear the full interview here.

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