Lee Bollinger Articles


Q&A on Affirmative Action with Columbia Spectator

Columbia Spectator, July 17, 2018

I think the recent statements by the [Trump] administration will not have a broad effect at this point in time. If they are followed by more concrete actions to discourage affirmative action, and if it is followed by litigation, that may be a different story. Not at Columbia, I think, because we will defend this to the end. But many universities can become skittish about being involved in litigation.

Can Free Speech Save Us?

Columbia Journalism Review, Fall 2017

“Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition.” That was written nearly a century ago, in 1919, in a dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. The case, Abrams v. United States, involved five Russian immigrants who had been prosecuted for their distribution of leaflets in New York City praising the Russian Revolution, criticizing President Woodrow Wilson’s opposition to communism, and urging workers to launch a general strike in protest.

Symposium: Is Free Speech Under Threat in the United States?

Commentary, June 14, 2017

I know it is too much to expect that political discourse mimic the measured, self-questioning, rational, footnoting standards of the academy, but there is a difference between robust political debate and political debate infected with fear or panic. 

The No-Censorship Approach to Life

The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 18, 2016

What’s true for the country is also true for Columbia. We don’t ban speech. We don’t censor speech. But make no mistake: This is no simple, clear-cut, self-evident principle or policy; in fact, far from it.

How Investment Agreements Can Protect Free Media

Project Syndicate, July 11, 2016

At the beginning of this year, Al Jazeera sued the Egyptian government for $150 million. The Qatar-based news channel presented its case before the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, DC. 

Affirmative Action Isn’t Just a Legal Issue. It’s Also a Historical One.

The New York Times, June 24, 2016

The Supreme Court’s decision this week in Fisher v. University of Texas is a profound relief, and a cause for celebration among those of us in higher education who have long insisted that affirmative action is vital to our schools’ missions and to society as a whole.

Defending a Free Press in a Digital Age

TIME, May 17, 2016

A recent poll of leading newspaper editors found that more than half agreed with the statement: “News organizations are no longer prepared to go to court to preserve First Amendment freedoms.” The explanation: news organizations whose business models have been upended by the Internet have less money for litigation.

What Once Was Lost Must Now Be Found: Rediscovering an Affirmative Action Jurisprudence Informed by the Reality of Race in America

Harvard Law Review Forum, April 12, 2016

This academic year has seen college and university students across America calling on their institutions to do more to create campus cultures supportive of African American students and other underrepresented minorities. There have been demands to increase faculty and student diversity, change curricular requirements, and adopt mandatory cultural sensitivity trainings.  

Reversing Affirmative Action Would Send us Backwards on Race

TIME, December 7, 2015

When the Supreme Court revisits affirmative action in Fisher v. University of Texas on Dec. 9, the legalistic discussion of narrowly tailored means and race-neutral alternatives will obscure a more basic question: Do the searing events and protests that began in Ferguson, Mo., and continue to echo across the country leave any doubt about how far we have to go to overcome racial discrimination and to achieve a truly integrated society?

Americans Only Figured Out Free Speech 50 Years Ago. Here’s How the World Can Follow Our Lead.

The Washington Post, February 12, 2015

We have been negotiating between the new and the old, the foreign and the familiar, tolerance and censorship forever. But digital communications and global commerce are remaking the world: Last year, there were more than 1 billion international travelers. 

Sixty Years Later, We Need a New Brown

The New Yorker, May 16, 2014

Sixty years ago this Saturday, on May 17, 1954, a unanimous Supreme Court held that state segregation of black schoolchildren was unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Education marked a signal moment in American history—not only constitutional history.

Trade Can Break Down China's Great Firewall

The Washington Post, December 10, 2013 

Beijing has hinted ominously that it might rescind the right to live in China from as many as two dozen foreign journalists based there for U.S. news organizations.

To Move Forward, We Must Look Back

The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 27, 2013

In the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the decision has been understood as upholding the principles underlying affirmative action to create a diverse learning environment, opening the door to a still unknown level of judicial review of admissions practices at colleges and universities, and generally sidestepping the most fundamental questions about diversity and race in America.

A Long, Slow Drift from Racial Justice

The New York Times, June 24, 2013

The Supreme Court has again upheld the principles behind race-conscious affirmative action, no small feat for the cause of diversity in higher education. But in framing the issue very technically, it has, wittingly or not, continued its drift away from the ideals it advanced in the civil rights era, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education.

The Real Mismatch

Slate, May 30, 2013

The distance the United States has traveled in overcoming racial discrimination reflects one of our nation’s greatest achievements. Our long struggle toward redeeming the country’s founding ideal of equality has been embraced for decades by virtually every institutional sector in American society. But we still have a long way to go. 

Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open by Lee C. Bollinger book cover.
Lee C. Bollinger's book, "Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open."

Published in 2010 by Oxford University Press

Eternally Vigilant by Lee C. Bollinger and Geoffrey R. Stone book cover.
Lee C. Bollinger and Geoffrey R. Stone's book, "Eternally Vigilant."

Published in 2001 by The University of Chicago Press

Images of a Free Press by Lee C. Bollinger book cover.
Lee C. Bollinger's book, "Images of a Free Press."

Published in 1991 by University of Chicago Press

Tolerant Society by Lee C. Bollinger book cover.

Published in 1986 by Oxford University Press