Cleary Gottlieb Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month With Anthony D. Romero

October 29, 2020

Cleary Gottlieb hosted its National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, “The Latinx Identity: A Journey of Access, Agency, and Activism,” a conversation with Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Anthony D. Romero.

Over 210 participants attended the Zoom webinar. Brief welcome and introductory remarks were provided by associate Claudia Diaz-Alemany and counsel Kenneth Blazejewski moderated the discussion.

Anthony discussed his career as ACLU’s sixth executive director and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. After taking helm of the organization just seven days before the September 11, 2001 attacks, he anticipated the impending assault on civil liberties in the name of protecting national security and quickly launched the Keep America Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms.

Anthony has created multiple projects to defend civil liberties, including ACLU’s National Security Project, which achieved legal victories regarding the Patriot Act, and oversaw the ACLU’s expansion into high-impact political work, including the ACLU’s launch of People Power, a grassroots advocacy platform, in 2017. Since then, more than half a million activists have joined People Power, and their advocacy has pushed local governments across the U.S. to enact policies to protect immigrants, expand voting rights, and increase voter education and turnout around civil liberties issues. Additionally, he significantly ramped up the ACLU’s engagement in direct political advocacy in 2018, scoring several major victories, including the re-enfranchisement of approximately two million voters across three states—the biggest increase in the potential voting rolls since the 26th Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1971.

Throughout Anthony’s tenure, the ACLU has pursued aggressive litigation and advocacy challenging the greatest injustices of our time, including high-profile litigation and lobbying efforts to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, a nationwide campaign to reduce the prison and jail populations by 50% and combat racial disparities within the criminal justice system, the establishment of a project to assist in the defense of terrorism suspects being tried by military commission in Guantánamo, an innovative legal challenge to the patents held by a private company on the human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer, and class action litigation to ensure that the government cannot block access to abortion for unaccompanied minors in its custody.

An attorney with a history of public-interest activism, Anthony has presided over the most successful growth in the ACLU’s history, dramatically increasing its membership, national and affiliate staff, and budget. In 2005, he was named one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and he has received dozens of public service awards and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law.

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