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Legendary Activist Tom Hayden Appears at TJSL

September 19, 2011


It’s not every day students at TJSL get to hear from a genuine legend on campus, but that was the case on Friday, September 16 when political activist Tom Hayden appeared at the law school.

Hayden is a former California legislator who was a co-founder of the 60’s anti-war group Students for Democratic Society (SDS) and was one of the Chicago Eight who went on *trial after violence erupted at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention. Recently, The Nation named Mr. Hayden as one of the fifty greatest progressives of the 20th century and the New York Times called him “the single greatest figure of the 1960’s student movement.”

Hayden was introduced by TJSL professor Marjorie Cohn who reminded everyone that it was Constitution Day. In his talk titled, Democracy vs. Empire, Hayden talked about how the founding fathers didn’t tackle certain issues when they wrote The Constitution – issues such as the status of Native Americans.

“Nothing in the Declaration or The Constitution suggests anything other than oblivion for the Native Americans,” said Hayden. “The issue was their right of self-determination and the issue of national sovereignty remains today and we have to enter that conversation.”

Hayden says he was “hoping for a lifetime when I could just fade away.” But he is still an anti-war activist today, working against the current U.S. involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, “and wherever there are U.S. troops on the ground or drones are being launched.”

He also shared some of his political observations, cautioning that “those who say they are for reform on any issue are usually against it.”  Hayden cited politicians who say they want to reform Social Security and wind up saying, “Social Security is a great idea, but we can’t afford it.”

The event was presented by The San Diego Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy, the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the National Lawyers Guild and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Center for Law and Social Justice.

In the audience were law students, TJSL faculty and staff and members of the community, including quite a few lawyers.

*Hayden was eventually acquitted of all charges