Law Professors

Ex-Radical Now a Law Prof and a Campaign Issue

Bernadine Dohrn, a former member of the Weather Underground, is now a law professor at Northwestern University with an expertise in children’s law. Her husband, former Underground member Bill Ayers, has also joined the mainstream as an advocate of school reform who is an informal adviser to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

But that didn’t stop Hillary Clinton from raising their links to Barack Obama, who is their neighbor in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, the Washington Post reports. During a televised debate, Clinton said Republicans will certainly be raising the issue.

The couple hosted a gathering for Obama when he first ran for the state Senate in 1995 and contributed $200 to his campaign, the Post story says. Ayers and Obama also served together for three years on an anti-poverty board that met four times a year.

Obama defended his ties to the Ayers. “The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense,” he said.

Stanford law professor Lawrence Marshall told the Post the couple are now “absolutely upstanding establishment citizens.” He said judges who worked with the couple on a juvenile justice project agreed. “Judges who were lifelong ardent conservatives had no trouble recognizing that the work that Bernadine and Bill are now doing is completely divorced from anything in their background.”

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