“Those of you who’ve had the good fortune to be born in the
United States simply have not known the absence of freedoms,” says
Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief
Judge of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. “You
can only imagine, but not experience, what it’s like to live in a
society where these freedoms are absent.”
Born in 1950 to Holocaust survivors, Kozinski grew up as a
committed communist in Bucharest, Romania. On his first trip
outside of the Iron Curtain, in Vienna, Austria, he experienced
forbidden luxuries like bubble gum and bananas. It was his first
taste of freedom, and it caused him to become, in his words, “an
Today, Kozinski is responsible for some of the most influential
– and controversial – legal decisions in the United States.
Kozinski’s rulings have ;challenged
the Obama administration over the issue of same-sex marriage.
In a case that tested the limits of parody and artistic expression,
he has weighed in on whether a Barbie doll
qualifies as a sex object. In one of the most influential
dissents in recent memory, he caused federal prosecutors to drop
all charges against a defendant who’d been convicted of smuggling
of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexican border. ;
Kozinski sat down with Reason editor-in-chief Matt
Welch during Reason Weekend in Las Vegas for a wide-ranging
discussion about freedom and the law. How do mobile phones and
cloud computing affect our right to privacy? Why do judges
interpret the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution so broadly?
What’s wrong with the practice of jury nullification?
Kozinski, a self-described libertarian, answers these questions,
and many others, with the insight and wry humor that comes from
decades of experience on the bench – and a childhood under
About 50 minutes.
Produced by Todd Krainin. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Alex
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