The University of Chicago Human Rights Program Winter Quarter Distinguished Lecturer
Albie Sachs, Justice on the Constitutional Court of South Africa
"The South African Court Looks At Same-Sex Marriages: The Fourie Case"
(view poster for this event; listen to this talk in RealAudio; subscribe to the HR Distinuished Lecturer Podcast)
South African Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs will speak on the recent decision of the Court regarding same-sex marriage (download a PDF of the judgment and/or the media summary of the judgment) and offer his thoughts on other social issues which confront the courts in South Africa and the U.S.
Wednesday January 11, 2006
Swift Hall 3rd Floor Lecture Room
1025 East 58th Street
Introductions by Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Law School, Divinity School
and George Chauncey, Professor, Department of History and the College
This event is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago's Center for Comparative Constitutionalism, the Center for Gender Studies, the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory and the Human Rights Program
Persons with a disability or who feel they may need assistance should contact 773-834-0957.
Narrative Biography of Justice Sachs
On turning six, during World War II, Albie Sachs received a card from his father expressing the wish that he would grow up to be a soldier in the fight for liberation.
His career in human rights activism started at the age of seventeen, when as a second year law student at the University of Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Three years later he attended the Congress of the People at Kliptown where the Freedom Charter was adopted. He started practice as an advocate at the Cape Bar aged 21. The bulk of his work involved defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws. Many faced the death sentence. He himself was raided by the security police, subjected to banning orders restricting his movement and eventually placed in solitary confinement without trial for two prolonged spells of detention.
In 1966 he went into exile. After spending eleven years studying and teaching law in England he worked for a further eleven years in Mozambique as law professor and legal researcher. In 1988 he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of an eye.
During the 1980s working closely with Oliver Tambo, leader of the ANC in exile, he helped draft the organisation's Code of Conduct, as well as its statutes. After recovering from the bomb he devoted himself full-time to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. In 1990 he returned home and as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC took an active part in the negotiations which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. After the first democratic election in 1994 he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court.
In addition to his work on the Court, he has travelled to many countries sharing South African experience in healing divided societies. He has also been engaged in the sphere of art and architecture, and played an active role in the development of the Constitutional Court building and its art collection on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg.