Marjorie Heins

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Marjorie Heins
Marjorie Heins.jpg
EducationB.A., J.D.
Alma materCornell University
Harvard Law School
Occupationlawyer and writer
OrganizationFree Expression Policy Project
AwardsEli M. Oboler Award
First Amendment Hero
Luther McNair Award

Marjorie Heins (b.1946[1]) is a First Amendment lawyer, writer and founder of the Free Expression Policy Project.[2]


Heins received a B.A., with distinction, from Cornell University in 1967.[2] She received her J.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School in 1978. She was admitted to the bar of Massachusetts in 1978 and New York in 1993.[3]


Heins started as a journalist in the 1970s in San Francisco on publications including the underground San Francisco Express Times.[4] She was also an anti-war activist during the Vietnam War.[5]

American Civil Liberties Union[edit]

In the 1980s as staff counsel at the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Heins litigated numerous civil rights matters, including LGBT rights and free speech. One matter involved a litigation against Boston University for the discharge of the Dean of Students on the basis of her complaints about discrimination on the part of the university.[6] This story is told in Cutting the Mustard (1988).[7] Heins also investigated the Boston Police Department's treatment of the notorious Carol Stuart murder case, in which a white man murdered his wife but claimed to be a victim of a carjacking by an African American man.[2]

From 1989-91, she served as editor-in-chief of the Massachusetts Law Review. In 1991-92, she was chief of the Civil Rights Division at the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.[3][8]

She founded and directed the Arts Censorship Project at the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991-1998,[8] during the years in which arts censorship were a particularly controversial and active field. During that time, she worked on a number of high-profile arts censorship matters. Heins was co-counsel on the ACLU's Reno v. ACLU brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately led to striking the Communications Decency Act as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. Heins was also co-counsel on Karen Finley's landmark lawsuit against the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley.[9][10]


Heins has taught at Boston College Law School, Florida State University College of Law, the University of California-San Diego (UCSD), New York University (NYU), Tufts University, and the American University of Paris.[3]

At UCSD, she created courses in "Censorship, Culture and American Law" and "Political Repression and the Press: Red Scares in U.S. History and Law." At NYU, she taught "Censorship and American Culture." At the American University of Paris, she taught "Free Expression and the Media: Policy and Law."[3]

She was a fellow at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, 2004-2007.[11] In 2011, she was a fellow at NYU's Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center while researching her book, Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge.[3][11]

She is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication of NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.[12]

Cases Litigated[edit]

Heins' litigation includes:


  • Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge (New York: NYU Press, 2013) (ISBN 9780814790519)
  • Not in Front of the Children: 'Indecency', Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth (2001; 2007) (ISBN 0-8090-7399-4)[13][14]
  • Sex, Sin and Blasphemy: A Guide to America's Censorship Wars (1993; rev. 1998) (ISBN 1-56584-048-8)[15]
  • Cutting the Mustard: Affirmative Action and the Nature of Excellence (1988) (ISBN 0-571-12974-9)
  • Strictly Ghetto Property: The Story of Los Siete de la Raza (1972) (ISBN 0-87867-010-6)
Other works

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ See Library of Congress Authorities, Name Authority Record Number n86057943 (permalink[permanent dead link]).
  2. ^ a b c Beth Saulnier, "The Talking Cure", Cornell Alumni Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Marjorie Heins Bio". Free Expression Policy Project. Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  4. ^ Applegate, Edd. Literary Journalism: A Biographical Dictionary of Writers and Editors (Greenwood, 1996), p. 160.
  5. ^ Biography, Strictly Ghetto Property ("She worked with the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, and wrote for a series of underground newspapers: the Rat in New York, the Express Times and Dock of the Bay in San Francisco, the Berkeley Tribe. She reported on Los Siete de la Raza for Hard Times and Ramparts magazine.") See, e.g., Letter from Marjorie Heins for the Mobilization, Sept. 14, 1967.
  6. ^ Barbara Lightner, "Interview with Marjorie Heins", IOBA Standard, v.3, no. 3 (Aug. 2002).
  7. ^ Heins, Cutting the Mustard.
  8. ^ a b c Business Wire (May 15, 2013). "Winners Announced for 2013 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  9. ^ "HLS Arts Panel Explores the NEA and Censorship". Harvard Law School. April 16, 2002. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  10. ^ "NEA Decency Standards" (discussion between Marjorie Heins and Colby May), C-Span, March 31, 1998.
  11. ^ a b "Marjorie Heins". New York University. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Adjunct Faculty". New York University. Archived from the original on 19 August 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  13. ^ David Greene, "Book Review: Not in Front of the Children", 10 Boston University Public Interest Law Journal 360 (2001).
  14. ^ Michael Grossberg, "Book Review: Does Censorship Really Protect Children?", 54 Federal Communications Law Journal 591 (May 2002).
  15. ^ Judy Zeprun Kalman, Sex, Sin, and Blasphemy: A Guide to america's Censorship Wars: Book Review", 81 Massachusetts Law Review 136 (Sept. 1996).
  16. ^ "RAG RADIO / Thorne Dreyer : Civil Liberties Lawyer and Author Marjorie Heins", Feb. 13, 2013
  17. ^ Past Recipients Archived 2012-10-15 at the Wayback Machine, American Library Association, Intellectual Freedom Round Table (last visited March 6, 2014).
  18. ^ The Twenty-Third Annual University of Michigan Senate's Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom, Oct. 23, 2013, Honigman Auditorium, University of Michigan Law School.
  19. ^ Jared Wadley, "Civil Liberties Lawyer Marjorie Heins to Deliver Academic Freedom Lecture", University of Michigan Record, Oct. 14, 2013.

External links[edit]