NACDL presented the Champion of Justice Award to Anthony Romero at the Foundation for Criminal Justice’s Celebration of Gideon’s 50th Anniversary. Mr. Romero serves as the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was honored for his tremendous efforts to reform the criminal justice system, particularly his efforts, through the John Adams Project, to ensure that defendants charged with capital crimes before military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay Cuba receive appropriately-qualified defense teams.
Mr. Romero took the helm of the ACLU just four days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national Keep America Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis, achieving court victories on the Patriot Act, uncovering thousands of pages of documents detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, and filing the first successful legal challenge to the Bush administration's illegal NSA spying program. In 2007, Mr. Romero and co-author and NPR correspondent Dina Temple-Raston published “In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror,” a book that takes a critical look at civil liberties in this country at a time when constitutional freedoms are in peril.
Mr. Romero is the ACLU's sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. In 2005, Mr. Romero was named one of Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and has received dozens of public service awards and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law.
Born in New York City to parents who hailed from Puerto Rico, Mr. Romero was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He is a graduate of Stanford University Law School and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. He is a member of the New York Bar Association and has sat on numerous nonprofit boards.