A native of New York City, Vincent Warren has been the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) since 2006, having served previously on that organization’s board of directors. Warren attended the United Nations International School from 1977-82; graduated from Haverford College with a BA in Political Science in 1986; and earned a JD from …
A native of New York City, Vincent Warren has been the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) since 2006, having served previously on that organization’s board of directors. Warren attended the United Nations International School from 1977-82; graduated from Haverford College with a BA in Political Science in 1986; and earned a JD from the Rutgers School of Law in 1993. Before joining CCR, Warren worked as a criminal defense attorney for the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn, New York (1993-98); was involved in monitoring South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings (1997); served as a law clerk to Federal Judge Ronald L. Ellis of the Southern District of New York (1998-99); and was a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (1999-2006).
During his tenure at the ACLU, Warren (unsuccessfully) litigated Gratz v. Bollinger, where the Supreme Court in 2003 ruled that the admissions policy at the University of Michigan’s School of Literature, Science, and the Arts too closely approximated racial quotas in a manner that had been declared unconstitutional in _Regents of the University of California_ _v. Bakke_ (1978).1
In 2008, Warren led CCR’s “Beyond Guantanamo: Rescue the Constitution” public outreach campaign which focused on two CCR-litigated cases – Al Odah v. United States and Boumediene v. Bush – where the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government had insufficient cause to continue holding five particular prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
Warren was the chief strategist and spokesperson for a CCR federal class-action lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s racial profiling and “stop-and-frisk” practices; in 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and against the NYPD.
Warren has also advanced CCR’s work by launching what he describes as:
- “a groundbreaking case resulting in a landmark decision recognizing that persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that triggers protection under international law”;
- “a legal challenge to solitary confinement at Pelican Bay Prison in California”;
- “cases challenging the targeted killing of U.S. citizens”;
- “cases challenging warrantless NSA surveillance”;
- “cases alleging human rights violations by private military contractors in Iraq”; and
- “a case challenging information secrecy in the court martial of Chelsea Manning,” a U.S. soldier who had been convicted of espionage for leaking some 750,000 sensitive and/or classified documents to WikiLeaks.
In addition, Warren established the Bertha Social Justice Institute, a training facility designed “to build the next generation of people’s lawyers.”
In November 2014, Warren wrote an opinion piece titled “Structural and Institutional Racism Exists Within Police Forces,” which was published by The New York Times. In this article, he asserted that “it isn’t [just] a few bad apples on police forces”; that “officers are trained to see communities of color as war zones and to behave like occupiers”; that “structural and institutional racism … underlies police violence against black people”; and that because “police officers are so rarely held accountable for killing even unarmed black and brown people,” those communities “have lost faith in the system, which repeatedly tells them black lives don’t matter.”
In a separate November 2014 article, Warren stated that “structural, systemic, institutionalized racism” pervades police forces nationwide; that “police violence against people of color isn’t an aberration”; that “black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be shot dead by police than white [teenagers]”; that “the national police killing epidemic rests comfortably on a pedestal of racially discriminatory police practices … that traumatize millions of young men and sweep hundreds of thousands of them into the criminal justice system for offenses no more serious than having a loose joint”; that “bias in sentencing treats white offenders more leniently than people of color”; and that “the result is the mass incarceration of African Americans, and the legalized forms of discrimination that follow, from the denial of the right to vote, housing discrimination, ineligibility for government benefits and more.”
In December 2016, Warren gave a statement to the Code Pink-sponsored Peoples’ Tribunal on the Iraq War, in which he said that “the U.S. was bombing Iraq for a variety of made-up reasons” as early as the 1980s, in an effort to “position[n] itself … to get access to and control of Iraqi oil.” He also condemned “the lies that have been told [by the U.S. government] … to justify really what is essentially aggressive war without end.”
Writing in The Guardian in January 2017, Warren attacked Jeff Sessions, whom President Trump had appointed to the post of Attorney General, as a racist who routinely “blamed everyone but the police for the nation’s policing problem”; who “reduced whole [nonwhite] communities to erroneous crime statistics”; and who had repeatedly failed to “addres[s] the morality of police killing unarmed women, men, and children.”2
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1 In a companion case, Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court in 2003 ruled that the University of Michigan’s Law School admissions policy was constitutional because it took a “holistic” approach that used race as merely one of multiple considerations, as prescribed by Bakke.
2 Warren also criticized Sessions for having “urged Congress to defund” Barack Obama‘s DACA and DAPA executive orders, which had provided millions of illegal aliens with temporary legal status, work permits, access to certain publicly funded social services, and protection from deportation.