A Watchdog on Human Rights

A headshot of Peter Margulies

Peter Margulies, Professor of Law

Juris DoctorFaculty

As an expert in National Security Law, Professor Peter Margulies focuses on the delicate balance between liberty, equality and security in issues involving law, terrorism, immigration policy and other areas of central relevance in today’s volatile political climate. He frequently appears in such prominent media outlets as the New York Times, Time, CBS, Fox and others. Recently, he has been cited as an expert regarding the child immigration crisis, the Trump administration’s travel ban, DACA, military commissions, and other issues. In 2010, he published a well-reviewed book, Law’s Detour: Justice Displaced in the Bush Administration (New York: NYU Press).

 When the Supreme Court heard Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (on what it means to provide “prohibited material in support of terrorism”), Margulies appeared on a Georgetown Law School panel discussing the case, was featured in a podcast for SCOTUS-blog, and was interviewed by the National Law Journal about his amicus brief in the case.

 Margulies has written more than a dozen articles discussing the War on Terror and has worked with RWU Law Professor Jared Goldstein – as well as litigators from the law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge – representing Afghan detainees at Guantánamo Bay. He led a national conference held at RWU titled, “Legal Dilemmas in a Dangerous World: Law, Terrorism and National Security.” His analysis of Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) new bill on habeas corpus and detention was recently featured on the influential Lawfare national security blog.

Margulies’ interest in international human rights law began when he was still a law student at Columbia University – and, as the son of two refugees himself, it was personal.

“It was because of my parents’ experiences that I got involved in human rights law,” he says. His mother survived the Holocaust in Poland by hiding under a chicken coop for eight months. His father was an Austrian Jew who left for France after witnessing a Hitler rally firsthand. France deported him, however, and he ended up living in Shanghai for 10 years, because quotas for Jewish refugees had been filled elsewhere.

While teaching law at St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami (where he was recruited by current RWU Law Professor Larry J. Ritchie), Margulies founded and directed that school’s Immigration Law Clinic, which was then focused on representing Haitian refugees.

“The common thread in the reactions of outsiders to refugee narratives is disbelief,” he says. “After World War II, inmates of Dachau were told ‘you’re making it up.’ And the Haitians were facing a similar situation – ‘reports of abuses are exaggerated.’ We often assess and interpret refugee narratives based on whether we perceive them as our friends or our enemies.”