Harvey A. Silverglate

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Harvey A. Silverglate (born May 10, 1942) is an attorney in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the co-founder, with Alan Charles Kors, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), for which he also serves as the current Chairman of the Board of Directors.[1]

He holds degrees from Princeton University ('64) and Harvard Law School ('67). He is a practicing attorney, specializing in civil liberties litigation, criminal defense, academic freedom, and students' rights cases. He is Of Counsel to the Boston-based law firm Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP.

In addition to his law practice, Silverglate is also a journalist and writer. He was a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, writing on politics, law, and civil liberties.[2] He now writes a regular column for Forbes.com on injustices in the justice system. He also has written columns and op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the National Law Journal, Reason magazine, and other publications.[3] He is the author of two books, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses (Co-authored with Alan Kors) and Three Felonies a Day, which details the extension of vague federal criminal laws into daily conduct that would not be readily seen as criminal.

Silverglate was a featured speaker at a rally by Demand Progress in memory of Aaron Swartz[4] and wrote an op-ed for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about his prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Lawyers familiar with the case told him the Middlesex County District Attorney's plan had been to resolve Swartz’s case by having it "...continued without a finding, with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner."[5][6] As he explained to CNET’s Declan McCullagh

Under such a disposition, the charge is held in abeyance (“continued”) without any verdict (“without a finding”). The defendant is on probation for a period of a few months up to maybe a couple of years at the most; if the defendant does not get into further legal trouble, the charge is dismissed, and the defendant has no criminal record. This is what the lawyers expected to happen when Swartz was arrested.[5]

“Tragedy intervened,” Silverglate wrote in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, “when [United States Attorney Carmen] Ortiz’s office took over the case to ‘send a message’.” [6]

Silverglate was a member of the board of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for three decades and served for two years as board president. He has also taught at Harvard Law School, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

Silverglate was a candidate in the 2009 Harvard Board of Overseers elections. After collecting 315 signatures from Harvard alumni, he was nominated as a petition candidate in early February 2009. Harvey's platform [7] focused on reforming the student disciplinary board, eliminating speech codes, and restoring the student voice in university outreach efforts. His campaign had been covered in The Boston Globe [8] and the Harvard Law Record,[9] and he made an appearance on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney.[10] Election results were announced at commencement, June 4, 2009, and Silverglate finished in eighth place, with 11,700 votes, 1600 short of winning a seat.[11]

Silverglate is married to the portrait photographer Elsa Dorfman. Their son Isaac lives in New York City.


  • Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (September 2009)
  • The Shadow University: The Betrayal Of Liberty On America's Campuses by Alan Charles Kors (Author) and Harvey A. Silverglate (Author) ISBN 0-06-097772-8 (1999)


  1. ^ "Harvey Silverglate" Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Accessed 20 March 2008.
  2. ^ "Harvey Silverglate" The Boston Phoenix. Accessed 20 March 2008.
  3. ^ "Publications" Accessed 20 March 2008.
  4. ^ Sacchetti, Maria (April 13, 2013). "Ralliers at Dewey Square remember Internet activist Aaron Swartz". Boston Globe. 
  5. ^ a b McCullagh, Declan, Swartz didn't face prison until feds took over case, report says, cnet, 25 January 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  6. ^ a b Silverglate, Harvey (January 23, 2013). "The Swartz suicide and the sick culture of the DOJ". Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Archived from the original on 2013-01-24. 
  7. ^ Harvey's Board of Overseers platform
  8. ^ "Free Speech at Harvard," by Scot Lehigh
  9. ^ "Silverglate seeks spot as university overseer, by Andrew Kalloch
  10. ^ Silverglate, Freedman on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney,
  11. ^ Lawyers Fail in Campaigns for Harvard Overseers, by Robert J. Ambrogi

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