Last updated on: 6/27/2012 | Author:

Aryeh Neier Biography

President of the Open Society Institute and former National Executive Director of the ACLU
Pro to the question "Is the ACLU Good for America?"

“From its founding in 1920, the primary purpose of the American Civil Liberties Union has been to defend freedom of speech… The ACLU, therefore, feels obliged to defend any group denied the freedom to speak… Many of the ACLU’s battles in the noble cause of freedom of speech have been waged on behalf of despicable clients… [Because] abridgements of freedom are directed first against the most universally despised.”

Defending My Enemy, 1979

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • President, Open Society Institute; Chairman of the Board of Directors, Open Society Policy Center, 1993-present
  • Member, Board of Directors, Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF)
  • Contributor, New York Review of Books, Guardian, and Foreign Policy
  • Executive Director and Founder, Human Rights Watch, 1978-1993
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, New York University, 1978-1991
  • National Executive Director, ACLU, 1970-1978
  • Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union, 1965-1970
  • Former Contributor, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune, and Huffington Post
  • Former Human Rights Columnist, The Nation
  • Former Adjunct Professor of Law, New York University
  • Former Editor, Current
  • Former Director, League for Industrial Democracy
  • JD, Cornell University
  • Recipient, Burton Benjamin Memorial Award, Committee to Protect Journalists, 2010
  • Recipient, Rule of Law Award, International Bar Association, 2006
  • Recipient, Gavel Award, American Bar Association
  • Born in 1937 in Berlin, Germany and grew up in New York, NY
Quoted in:
  1. Is the ACLU Justified in Claiming That Limits on Political Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Compromise Free Speech?
  2. Is the ACLU Good for America?