New School President Bob Kerrey talks with William Zabel about his distinguished legal career, his work as chairman of Human Rights First, and his role in significant human rights cases, including the landmark Supreme Court decision which put an end to race-based bans on marriage.
January 1, 2011, Bob Kerrey completed his tenure as seventh President of The New School, a university founded on strong democratic ideals and daring educational practices, an environment that was well suited for his leadership. He also served as New School's President Emeritus from January 1, 2011 to January 31, 2013.
Prior to coming to The New School Bob Kerrey represented Nebraska in the United States Senate. For two terms, Senator Kerrey emphasized the direct connection between citizens and their laws, and made a concerted effort to allow Nebraskans to participate in writing laws that defined the quality and inclusiveness of their health care system, their schools and the safety of their communities. He served on the Senate's Agriculture and Forestry Committee, Senate's Appropriations Committee, Senate's Finance Committee, and last but not least on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence where he worked to restructure our intelligence agencies to improve their capacity to meet the threats faced by our country. Prior to serving in the U.S. Senate Bob Kerrey served a single term as Nebraska's Governor. He established a reputation as a fiscal conservative who regularly crossed political party lines for the good of Nebraska and the Country.
Bob Kerrey served three years in the United States Navy. While in Vietnam, he was wounded, permanently disabled from the injury, and from this injury received a great gift: Sympathy for those who are suffering and an appreciation for the capacity of government to save your life. Before his time in the Navy Bob Kerrey attended the University of Nebraska graduating in January 1966 with a BS degree in pharmacy. He was born in Lincoln and attended public schools there. In 2002 he published a memoir "When I Was A Young Man."
Bob Kerrey is married to Sarah Paley and lives in New York. The couple has a 12-year-old son, Henry, and Mr. Kerrey has two children from his previous marriage, Ben and Lindsey Kerrey, and four grandchildren.
William Zabel is chairman of Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), a nonprofit international human rights organization. He has traveled the globe on Human Rights First's behalf, including a 1986 trip to Chile, where he investigated cases involving those who were disappeared under the Pinochet regime.
Zabel was a strong advocate for the creation of the International Criminal Court, and he helped support its growth as an effective forum for bringing human rights violators to justice. Zabel also played a key role in the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, in which the Court declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute unconstitutional, effectively putting an end to race-based bans on marriage. Two years later, he was the lead lawyer in Weiss v. Gardner, where the Supreme Court held that a loyalty oath then required by Medicare was unconstitutional.
Later, he signed the brief in Palmore v. Sidoti, in which the Supreme Court held that a white woman could not be stripped of custody of her child because she married an African American.
Lawyer and human rights advocate William Zabel argues that even though the United States is unlikely to sign the treaty of the International Criminal Court, it should still lend its support because the ICC is likely to be a "vital international organ for justice."