David Kairys: Liberty and Justice for Some

Kairys, one of the nation's leading civil rights attorneys, discusses the contradictory messages of recent Supreme Court speech law.

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David Kairys is the first James E. Beasley Chair (2001-07) at Temple University and one of the nation's leading civil rights lawyers. He authored Philadelphia Freedom, Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer and With Liberty and Justice for Some and co-authored the bestselling progressive critique of the law, The Politics of Law. His columns have appeared in major periodicals, and he has been profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Wall Street Journal, and Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine

As a civil rights lawyer, Kairys won the leading race discrimination case filed against the FBI. He has won challenges to unrepresentative juries around the country, and stopped police sweeps of minority neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Kairys also represented Dr. Benjamin Spock in a free speech case before the Supreme Court. In 1996, he conceived the city lawsuits against handgun manufacturers, and his public-nuisance theory has become the major basis for a range of challenges to corporate practices that endanger public health or safety. His recent articles focus on the history of civil rights, particularly the Supreme Court's decisions on racial issues, the role of courts and the meaning of the rule of law, and a range of issues related to handgun violence.