President’s Column: Spring/Summer 2019

By Elena Cohen, NLG President

As we reach the halfway point of 2019, taking time to reflect on the Guild’s accomplishments and ongoing work proves necessary. In times of deepening crisis, uncertainty, and wide scale injustice, the Guild and its members have consistently mounted resistance through its vibrant network of those who value human rights and the rights of ecosystems over that of property, as our recently passed amendment to the Preamble of the Constitution states. By our member-wide vote to explicitly center climate justice, the Guild has again shown how we are on the frontier of recognizing oppression and its many forms. Without care for our planet and resistance against the array of powers aligned against it, our liberation would be for nothing.

The Guild has a lot to be proud of this year. NLG attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen has been making headlines in national news through their defense of Chelsea Manning and her refusal to testify before a grand jury about her exposition of U.S. war crimes in Iraq. We stand in solidarity with Chelsea and protect the rights of whistleblowers who bravely expose the injustices of imperialism, war, and capitalism.

In response to the needs of the Central American Migrant Exodus at the U.S.- Mexico border, our collective response to help protect refugees from violence and political crisis was swift. In solidarity with Al Otro Lado, Guild members have been on the front lines of this fight against the fascist U.S. governmental regime and the humanitarian crisis at the border. The Guild will not shirk on its commitment and responsibility to the people—especially those most vulnerable.

Just a few weeks ago, I traveled to Detroit for the NLG Detroit Chapter’s 82nd Anniversary Dinner, honoring U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and law students Cait De Mott Grady and Phil Keller, with guest speaker Michael Moore. I found it heartwarming, and a sign of possible good things to come, that the Dinner committee had to decide which picture of Rashida getting arrested at a protest with NLG Legal Observers present would be used for the program. Having friends and allies in federal government is something we have never taken for granted. Thank you, Rashida, for your continued commitment to the same justice you fought for as an activist in Detroit.

For nearly a century, the Guild has proven itself to be an invaluable organization and political force for generations of radical lawyers, legal workers, and law students. But now more than ever, the Guild needs your help. It needs your commitment, passion, energy, and perhaps most importantly, it needs funding. With support from all of us, the Guild will continue to flourish and stand as a vanguard in these troubling times.

In solidarity,

Elena L. Cohen


Photo: (From L to R) NLG legal worker Micah Prussack, NLG President Elena Cohen, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, NLG Michigan student honoree and NLG Student National Vice President Cait De Mott Grady, filmmaker and activist Michael Moore, and NLG Michigan student honoree Phil Keller.