Justice Albie Sachs

Justice Albie Sachs was the first Richard and Ann Pozen Visiting Professor in Human Rights at the University of Chicago. His course and public lecture series were based on his book, Reason and Passion: The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Justice Sachs’s career in human rights activism started at the age of 17 when, as a law student in Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. The bulk of his work at the Cape Bar involved defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws.

After going into exile in 1966, he spent 11 years in England and 11 years in Mozambique as a law professor and legal researcher. During the 1980s, he helped draft the ANC’s Code of Conduct and statutes. In 1988, he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of one eye. In 1990, he returned home and as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC took an active part in the negotiations which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy.

After the first democratic election in 1994, he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly-established Constitutional Court, from which he retired in the fall of 2009.