Lee Gelernt has been an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union since 1992, and works on immigration and national security issues. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School and a visiting lecturer in clinical law at Yale Law School.
He currently holds the positions of deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project, and director of the Project’s Program on Access to the Courts. Gelernt has worked on several far-reaching national security cases arising out of the events of September 11, and served as one of only a few human rights observers at Guantanamo Bay for the first military trial conducted by the United States since World War II.
Among his other national security cases, Gelernt successfully argued one the very first major September 11 cases to reach the federal courts of appeals, Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, where he represented the media and Congressman John Conyers in their lawsuit seeking to prevent the government from holding secret deportation hearings after September 11. In the immigration area, Gelernt has litigated numerous important cases establishing the constitutional and statutory rights of non-citizens in the areas of discrimination, education, due process, and access to the courts.
Gelernt has received many honors for his work. In 2002, he received the 13th Annual Public Interest Achievement award from Columbia University’s Public Interest Law Foundation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has also twice awarded him their national prize for excellence in litigation for his civil rights work on behalf of the immigrant community. He clerked for the late Judge Frank M. Coffin of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Gelernt earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1988, where he was a notes and comments editor of the Law Review. He received his M.Sc from the London School of Economics.