Book Party: Michael Ratner Memoir - Moving the Bar

  • 27 Jul 2021
  • 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez / 9th St. & Ave. C


Registration is closed

Please join us for a book party for Moving The BarMy Life as a Radical Lawyer, a memoir of Michael Ratner, former President of the National Lawyers Guild and The Center for Constitutional Rights. 

The event will be held at the beautiful La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez Garden on Manhattan's Lower East Side. 

Speakers and readers will include:

Sarah Kunstler, lawyer and documentary filmmaker
Margaret Ratner Kunstler, civil rights attorney
Rachel Meeropol, Senior Staff Attorney and Associate Director of Legal Training and Education at the Center for Constitutional Rights and
Abdeen Jabara, civil rights attorney and past president of Arab American Anti- Discrimination Committee.

Attorney, author and speaker Michael Steven Smith will MC. 

Music by guitarist Ernie Vega.

Reception to follow.

My Life as a Radical Lawyer


Michael Ratner (1943–2016) was one of America’s leading human rights lawyers. He worked for more than four decades at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) becoming first the Director of Litigation and then the President of what Alexander Cockburn called “a small band of tigerish people.” He was also the President of the National Lawyers Guild.

Ratner handled some of the most significant cases In American history. This book tells why and how he did it.

His last case, which he worked on until he died, was representing truth-telling whistleblower and now political prisoner Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks.

Ratner “moved the bar” by organizing some 600 lawyers to successfully defend habeas corpus, that is, the ancient right of someone accused of a crime to have a lawyer and to be brought before a judge.

Michael had a piece of paper taped on the wall next to his desk at the CCR. It read:

4 key principles of being a radical lawyer:

1. Do not refuse to take a case just because it is long odds of winning in court.
2. Use cases to publicize a radical critique of US policy and to promote revolutionary transformation.
3. Combine legal work with political advocacy.
4. Love people.

Compelling and instructive, Moving the Bar is an indispensable manual for the next generation of activists and their lawyers.

366 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-68219-309-9 • E-book ISBN 978-1-68219-250-4


“A beautiful and compelling account from one of the leaders of the legal left... Ratner showed that one can indeed be both a radical and a lawyer—by acting 'one hundred percent on principle,' and by using the law on behalf of the vulnerable to hold the powerful to account.”
—David Cole, The Nation

“If you care as deeply and passionately as Michael Ratner, the suffering of the oppressed forces you to become a radical.” —Chris Hedges

“He was fearless. He was outraged by outrageous things. He was inventive when the law stopped short of providing justice. And working with Michael let you experience the exhilaration of taking the law to places where it had never been.”
—Peter Weiss, former vice-president of the Center for Constitutional Rights

“Driven by love and compassion, Michael Ratner was the most tenacious and brilliant of lawyers”
—Amy Goodman

“A fascinating read that covers much radical U.S. history.” —Ajamu Baraka