Nat Hentoff Joins the Cato Institute

February 4, 2009

Media Contact: (202) 789-5200

Nat Hentoff, one of the foremost authorities on the First Amendment, has joined the Cato Institute as a senior fellow. 

“The core of libertarianism is a defense of free speech,” said Ed Crane, President and CEO of the Cato Institute.  “No American in recent history has done more in defense of free speech and the First Amendment than the great civil libertarian, Nat Hentoff.  All of us at Cato are honored to have him as a colleague.”

Hentoff left the Village Voice in December, where he had been a columnist for 50 years.  Hentoff’s column, Sweet Land of Liberty, has been distributed by the United Feature Syndicate since 1992.

“Becoming a senior fellow of the Cato Institute – from whose publications I’ve often quoted – enables me to continue following the advice of my earliest mentor, Duke Ellington, who told me never to be caught up in a musical or any other categories,” said Hentoff.  “Duke said that it’s always the individual’s expression that defines his identity. All these years later, if I had to describe myself, it would be as an uncategorizable libertarian – and that’s why I’m delighted to be at the Cato Institute, where freedom rings.”

Hentoff is a widely acknowledged defender of civil liberties.  While his books and articles regularly defend the rights of Americans to think and speak freely, he also explores freedoms under the rest of the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment by showing how Supreme Court and local legislative decisions affect the lives of ordinary Americans.  

Hentoff has earned numerous awards over the course of his career.  In 1980, he was awarded an American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award for his coverage of the law and criminal justice in his columns.  In 1983, the American Library Association awarded him the Imroth Award for Intellectual Freedom.  In 1995, he received the National Press Foundation Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism, and in 1999, he was a Pulitzer finalist for commentary. Hentoff has authored many books, including Living the Bill of Rights: How to be an Authentic American and Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee.

A jazz expert, Hentoff also writes on music for The Wall Street Journal and Jazz Times.  He serves on the Board of Advisors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (F.I.R.E.) and is on the steering committee of the Reporters’ Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

To arrange an interview, please dial Cato Media Relations at 202-789-5200 or e-mail pr [at] cato [dot] org (pr [at] cato [dot] org).