Robert Badinter, the French Minister of Justice between 1981 and 1986, led the battle to abolish the death penalty in France.
He became a militant abolitionist after watching one of his clients unjustly guillotined in 1972. Over the next decade, he fought the death penalty in the courts and saved six men from the guillotine. After the election of François Mitterrand in 1981, Badinter was named Minister of Justice and pushed through the legislation that abolished the death penalty.
Badinter's book, Abolition: One Man's Battle Against the Death Penalty, serves as a guidebook on the various legal and political strategies that can be used in the quest for abolition. With U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Badinter recently co-authored a book on the role of judges- Live from the NYPL
Robert Badinter is the author of over a dozen books including work on Oscar Wilde and Condorcet. He also co-authored a recent book on the role of judges with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Badinter is married to the prominent feminist Elisabeth Badinter. Together, they form one of France's most influential couples. He is currently a member of the French Senate and celebrated his 80th birthday in March 2008.
Paul Holdengräber is the Director of LIVE from the NYPL.
Neal Katyal, the Paul Saunders Professor at Georgetown University, focuses on Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Intellectual Property. He has served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States, where he argued several major Supreme Court cases involving a variety of issues, such as his successful defense of the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, his victorious defense of former Attorney General John Ashcroft for alleged abuses in the war on terror, his unanimous victory against 8 states who sued the nation's leading power plants for contributing to global warming, and a variety of other matters. As Acting Solicitor General, Katyal was responsible for representing the federal government of the United States in all appellate matters before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals throughout the nation. He served as Counsel of Record hundreds of times, and orally argued 15 U.S. Supreme Court cases, as well as numerous others in lower courts. He was also the only head of the Solicitor General's office to argue a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on the important question of whether certain aspects of the human genome were patentable.
While teaching at Georgetown, Katyal won Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in the United States Supreme Court, a case that challenged the policy of military trials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. The Supreme Court sided with him by a 5-3 vote, finding that President Bush's tribunals violated the constitutional separation of powers, domestic military law, and international law. As former Solicitor General and Duke law professor Walter Dellinger put it "Hamdan is simply the most important decision on presidential power and the rule of law ever. Ever." An expert in matters of constitutional law, Katyal has embraced his theoretical work as the platform for practical consequences in the federal courts.
Katyal previously served as National Security Adviser in the U.S. Justice Department and was commissioned by President Clinton to write a report on the need for more legal pro bono work. He also served as Vice President Al Gore's co-counsel in the Supreme Court election dispute of 2000, and represented the Deans of most major private law schools in the landmark University of Michigan affirmative-action case Grutter v. Bollinger (2003). Katyal clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer as well as Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals. He attended Dartmouth College and Yale Law School. His articles have appeared in virtually every major law review and newspaper in America.
Katyal is the recipient of the very highest award given to a civilian by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Edmund Randolph Award, which the Attorney General presented to him in 2011. The Chief Justice of the United States appointed him in 2011 to the Advisory Committee on Federal Appellate Rules. Additionally, he was named as One of the 40 Most Influential Lawyers of the Last Decade Nationwide by National Law Journal (2010); One of the 90 Greatest Washington Lawyers Over the Last 30 Years by Legal Times (2008); Lawyer of the Year by Lawyers USA (2006); Runner-Up for Lawyer of the Year by National Law Journal (2006); One of the Top 50 Litigators Nationwide 45 Years Old or Younger by American Lawyer (2007); and one of the top 500 lawyers in the country by LawDragon Magazine for each of the last five years. He also won the National Law Journal's pro bono award in 2004.
Katyal has appeared on every major American nightly news program, as well as in other venues, such as the Colbert Report.
Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch, a post he has held since 1993. Human Rights Watch investigates, reports on, and seeks to curb human rights abuses in some 70 countries.
From 1987 to 1993, Mr. Roth served as deputy director of the organization. Previously, he was a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington. He also worked in private practice as a litigator.