Amicus Curiae

An amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief is an important way for the NLG to contribute its analysis of important but undeveloped aspects of critical cases. In appropriate cases, the Guild also joins briefs drafted by other organizations. NLG members, counsel, and others with recommendations for cases that you believe would benefit from an NLG amicus brief should read these guidelines and contact our Amicus Committee. Click the links below to view some of our previously filed briefs.

  • Kent L. and Linda Davis, et al. v. Grace Cox, et al. (December 8, 2014) NLG joined the Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, American Muslims for Palestine, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network in filing this amicus brief in response to a lawsuit brought against the Olympia Food Co-op in Washington State, after deciding to boycott Israeli goods as part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS).
  • US v. Odeh (November 20, 2014) NLG filed this amicus brief in support of the defense's motion that requested Palestinian American community leader Rasmea Odeh be granted bond pending sentencing to continue her social work in Chicago. 
  • Hedges, et al. v. Obama, et al. (January 2014) Along with the Center for Competitive Democracy and Ralph Nader, the NLG filed this brief challenging the constitutionality of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012, part of which allows for indefinite detention by the U.S. military of individuals accused of terrorism, without due process.
  • Blum, et al. v. Holder (July 2013) This brief challenges the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. The plaintiffs are five longtime animal rights activists whose advocacy work has been chilled due to fear of being prosecuted as a terrorist under the AETA.
  • Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, et al. (February 1, 2013) The NLG brief in support of the respondents underscores the obligation of the Supreme Court not to arrogate to itself the job of the legislature, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence supporting the legitimacy of Congress’s decision to extend the constitutionally crucial role of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitutional authority of an elected Congressto evaluate evidence presented to it.
  • Churchill v. The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado (September 13, 2011) This brief argues in support of Ward Churchill's appeal that his firing poses a threat to the First Amendment rights of all people, and particularly to academic freedom. The brief contends further that immunity granted to university regents for their role in Churchill’s firing could undermine Section 1983 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code, which has been a bulwark of civil rights since Reconstruction.
  • "SHAC 7” – Kevin Kjonaas, et al., v. United States (November 2010) This brief The petitioners are animal rights activists associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) who were sent to prison based solely on their ideological support for animal rights protests, as expressed on an advocacy-focused internet site. The brief explains that any appropriate framework must protect the right to engage in heightened political rhetoric on the internet such as practiced by the SHAC 7. 
  • Churchill v. The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado (February 18, 2010) This brief argues that academic freedom, a central component of the First Amendment and essential to a thriving democracy, is imperiled when state university officials succumb to political pressure to fire a tenured professor over constitutionally protected statements. Affording absolute immunity to university officials and vacating a jury finding of wrongful discharge in violation of the First Amendment threatens the fundamental rights of all faculty members. Fidelity to the rule of law requires a remedy for those deprived of their constitutional rights by state officials. Barring legal recourse for politically-motivated investigations and terminations will have a chilling effect on professors, students, and citizens whose speech is unpopular but constitutionally protected. The resultant suppression of free inquiry and critical thinking vitiates the First Amendment and undermines the foundation of higher learning in this country.
  • Hammer v. Ashcroft (November 27, 2009) In support of death row inmates’ right to person-to-person meetings with reporters. This brief focuses on the fact that the current Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) proscription of in-person communication between maximum security inmates and members of the press is inappropriately based on the anticipation that the speech will be offensive to government officials and the public discourse. The BOP’s interest in preserving security within the penal system does not permit it to censor speech absent a legitimate concern to justify the restriction of this fundamental right to free speech and free association.
  • Ruben Campa, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina (Cuban Five) v. United States (March 2, 2009) This brief, filed by the NLG and National Conference of Black Lawyers, is one of a record number of 12 amicus briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking a review of the case of the Cuban Five. Attorney for the Five, Tom Goldstein, said, "This is the largest number of amicus briefs ever to have urged the Supreme Court to review a criminal conviction." The Guild's brief focused on the damage done to the defendants, jurors and the overall system of justice when the 11th Circuit held that the prosecution evaded what in most circuits would be merely the prima facie-level inquiry of defendants’ rights under Batson v. Kentucky merely by not using all of its strikes to eliminate each and every minority juror.
  • Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (October 10, 2006) U.S. Supreme Court, No. 05-908 2006 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1040 The case involves affirmative action programs designed to end de facto discrimination in public elementary and secondary schools. The NLG opposes efforts to misuse the 14th Amendment to prevent such programs. This brief also explains that international human rights law as an additional, compelling interest in upholding the programs.
  • Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (September 20, 2006)
  • Abu-Jamal v. Horn (July 26, 2006) 3d Cir., Nos. 01-9014 & 02-9001 This brief addresses improper statements by the prosecutor during the 1982 trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The brief gives special consideration to the prosecutor’s attempts to guide the jurors to distance themselves from the significance of their decision – whether or not to send a person to death. The prosecutor told the jury that Mr. Abu-Jamal would have “appeal after appeal,” so their decision would not really be final. The brief cites sociological and psychological studies to demonstrate why such a statement is a significant violation of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s rights.
  • Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc. (September 21, 2005) U.S. Supreme Court, No. 04-1152 2005 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 618 This case was a challenge to the Solomon Amendment, which required schools to allow the military to recruit on campus, notwithstanding its non-compliance with the schools’ non-discrimination policy. The brief argues that “law schools are involved in an historic effort to improve the profession’s understanding of equality and what it means to conduct oneself in an ethical and responsible manner. Most have concluded that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is an unacceptable form of bigotry, and that the school should not associate with anyone who discriminates on that basis. The government must not be permitted to aggressively insert itself into that important debate by forcing law schools either to regress their understanding of the meaning of non-discrimination or to fail to live up to those principles.”
  • Alexander v. Oklahoma Supporting Petition (April 7, 2005) U.S. Supreme Court, No. 04-1198 The brief argued that equitable tolling should apply to the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots, given the “pervasive racism that dominated American Society [and that] erased from historical memory the plaintiffs’ cause of action. In conjunction with the recognized traumatic effects of human rights abuses on the victims, the false narrative concealed the cause of action from plaintiffs until the issuance of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission Report in 2001.”
  • United States of America v. Antonio Guerrero (2003) This brief argues that Antonio Guerrero and the other members of the so-called Cuban Five should receive a new trial, because not only was the trial infected with actual prejudice against him, but also because it lacked the Constitutionally necessary subjective appearance of a just proceeding. The brief addresses the wide-spread and pervasive prejudice in the Miami-Dade Cuban-exile community which manipulated the outcome of venue issues before the Court. Rather than putting the Court in a position to fairly decide the venue issues before it, a misrepresentation of facts known to the prosecution created an appearance of unfairness that tainted the entire trial process. The brief is limited to an elaboration of the due process requirement that "justice must statisfy the appearance of justice" which protects the integrity of the legal system and the judiciary.
  • Rumsfeld v. Padilla (April 9, 2004) This brief argues that the prolonged and indefinite incommunicado detention of Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant--an American citizen arrested on American soil--was without due process of law or any of the other procedural protections guaranteed under the United States Constitution to civilian detainees. The brief agrues that there is no constitutional, statutory, or common law basis for the detention and that the Executive's exercise of its newly asserted powers is proscribed by Congressional legislation that expressly bars such detention.
  • United States of America v. Ahmed Abdel Sattar, Mohammed Yousry, and Lynne Stewart (March 3, 2003) This brief is in support of attorney Lynne Stewart's motion to dismiss the charges in Counts One and Two of the indictment against her. It argues that the material support counts of the indictment fail to meet constitutional muster for three reasons: 1) the statute's blanket prohibition on the provision of "personnel" criminalizes a substantial mount of core political speech and is, as a result, both void for vagueness and facially overbroad; 2) the indictment does not allege that Ms. Stewart issued the statement in question with the intent to further the Islamic Group's unlawful ends; and 3) the statute by which the Secretary of State designates foreign terrorist organizations, 8 U.S.C. Sec. 2289, runs afoul of the First Amendment and Due Process Clause.