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Legal Activism

Michael Ratner Was A Revolutionary Lawyer Like No Other

When Michael Ratner died in 2016, the world lost one of the great human rights lawyers of the past century. A descendant of holocaust survivors, Ratner embodied the courage and integrity that is often sorely lacking among his peers in the legal field, taking on cases that seemed impossible to win, but were always essential to protecting human rights. He served as president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) as well as the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and spent much of his life advocating for the protection of civil liberties and civil rights. One of his greatest achievements was winning the case Rasul v. Bush, which set the legal precedent for hundreds of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay to be able challenge their detention in U.S. courts.

My Friend Michael Ratner

Michael admired courageous people who live their lives without contradictions.  John Brown was one such person. Brown and his band of 19 men captured the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia hoping to spark a slave uprising and arm themselves with the captured weapons. It didn’t work. Brown was surrounded, wounded, captured, tried for treason, and hanged. Michael admired Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who helped lead the 1917 Russian Revolution which overthrew capitalism.  Lenin had hoped that the revolution would spread to the rest of Europe and prevent a capitalist restoration.  We know what happened in 1991.  Michael admired Che Guevara. Che lead a division of rebel troops in Cuba 1959. They captured a military supply train in the famous battle of Santa Clara. The island was cut in half and the Americans supported puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista fled to the Dominican Republic.
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