|Albert Louis Sachs|
|Justice Albie Sachs in South Africa's Constitutional Court|
|Judge of the Constitutional Court|
1994 – October 2009
|Appointed by||Nelson Mandela|
|Born||30 January 1935|
Albert "Albie" Louis Sachs (born 30 January 1935) was a judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He was appointed to the court by Nelson Mandela in 1994 and retired in October 2009. Justice Sachs gained international attention in 2005 as the author of the Court's holding in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v Fourie, in which the Court overthrew South Africa's statute defining marriage to be between one man and one woman as a violation of the Constitution's general mandate for equal protection for all and its specific mandate against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Sachs was born into a South African Jewish family of Lithuanian background. He attended the South African College School (SACS) in Cape Town. 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, in 1955, he attended the Congress of the People at Kliptown where the Freedom Charter was adopted.
He started practice as an advocate at the Cape Town Bar aged twenty one, where he defended people charged under racial statutes and security laws under South African Apartheid. Sachs has a law degree from the University of Cape Town and a PhD from Sussex University.
Imprisonment and exile
After being arrested and placed in solitary confinement for over five months, for his work in the freedom movement, Albie Sachs went into exile in England, and later Mozambique. He was represented in court by his advocate Wilfrid Cooper. In 1988, in Maputo, Mozambique, he lost an arm and his sight in one eye when a bomb was placed in his car. After the bombing, he devoted himself to the preparations for a new democratic constitution for South Africa. He returned to South Africa and served as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the African National Congress.
Awards and writings
In 1991 he won the Alan Paton Award for his book Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter. The book chronicles his response to the 1988 car bombing. A revised, updated and expanded edition was released in October 2011. He is also the author of Justice in South Africa (1974), The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs (1966), Sexism and the Law (1979), and The Free Diary of Albie Sachs (2004). His most recent book, The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law (2009), also won the Alan Paton Award, making him the second person to have won it twice. The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs was dramatized for the Royal Shakespeare Company by David Edgar, as well as for television and broadcast by the BBC in the late 1970s.
He helped select the art collection at Constitution Hill, the seat of the Constitutional Court.
In 2006 his alma mater the University of Cape Town awarded him an honorary Doctorate in Law. On 8 July 2008 Sachs was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree by the University of Ulster in recognition of his contribution to human rights and justice globally.
On 16 July 2010 Sachs was further awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of the University of York for his contribution to the construction of post-apartheid South Africa, in particular for his involvement in the creation of the Constitution.
In all, Sachs has 14 honorary degrees across four continents.
On the 20 June 2012 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Dundee.
- Image: Participants in the 1952 Defiance Campaign
- Book SA
- Honours Roll, University of Cape Town
- Law Review, September 2007
- Ulster honours Distinguished South African Jurist Albie Sachs University of Ulster News Release 8 July 2008
- University of York honours Albie Sachs
- Biography at the Constitutional Court of South Africa website
- An interview with Albie Sachs by the Conversations with History program of the Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley
- Voices on Antisemitism Interview with Albie Sachs from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Interview with Justice Sachs on Chicago Public Radio's Worldview program
- Hear his talk "The South African Court Looks At Same-Sex Marriages: The Fourie Case" at the University of Chicago
- Interview with Albie Sachs on The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law, "The Law Report" (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 14 September 2010