Hate on Trial: The Charlottesville Case

Posted On Mar 30, 2022 / 5782 | Segal Lecture in Law and Ethics

The Bernard G. Segal Memorial Lecture in Law and Ethics
Part of JTS’s Opening Season Events

In August 2017, white nationalists orchestrated a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—with torch-carrying marchers chanting, “Jews will not replace us.“ The result was intimidation, violence, and death. In November 2021, at a landmark trial in Charlottesville, a jury found the rally organizers liable and awarded more than $25 million in damages.

This is a conversation about this significant legal victory with Roberta Kaplan, a lead attorney in the case, Risa Goluboff, dean of University of Virginia School of Law, and Alan Levine, a member of the legal team and chair of the JTS Board of Trustees. They will discuss the innovative legal strategy used, related issues of constitutional law, and how the case’s outcome showed that antisemitic and other hate groups can successfully be fought in court.

They will also share personal reflections on the issues at stake from a Jewish perspective, offering insights that will enrich the conversation about ensuring the future of our democratic nation and the American Jewish community.


Risa Goluboff is the twelfth, and the first female, dean of the University of Virginia School of Law, and a professor of history at the university. A renowned legal historian, her scholarship and teaching focus on American constitutional and civil rights law, and especially their historical development in the 20th century. She is the author of The Lost Promise of Civil Rights and Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s. She is also co-editor of Civil Rights Stories and the author of numerous shorter works. She has been quoted or cited by the New York TimesTime, the Atlantic, and more, and her commentaries frequently appear in Slate. She has appeared on PBS documentaries and the popular radio podcast BackStory. Before joining the Law School in 2002, she clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice Stephen Breyer of the US Supreme Court.

Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan is the founding partner of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP. In July 2017, she left Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP after 25 years to found Kaplan Hecker & Fink, seeking to build what she calls a “new fashioned, old fashioned” law firm that combines a cutting-edge civil and criminal litigation practice with a groundbreaking commitment to using the courts to serve the public interest. A renowned litigator with decades of experience in commercial, higher education, and civil rights litigation, Chambers observed that Ms. Kaplan “defines a modern-day legal giant. A towering intellect and a genius in court, with the instincts of a street fighter.” She is perhaps best known for successfully arguing before the US Supreme Court on behalf of her client Edith Windsor in United States v. Windsor, the landmark marriage equality case. She was one of the two lead attorneys in Sines v. Kessler, the Charlottesville case.

Alan Levine is senior counsel and former head of the international law firm of Cooley LLP and a leading trial lawyer in the United States. He is a partner in the commercial litigation and White Collar & Regulatory Defense practice groups of Cooley LLP’s litigation department. He has also been chair of the JTS Board since 2015. During his legal career, spanning nearly 45 years, he has represented numerous individuals and companies in complex civil, criminal, and regulatory matters, and has appeared in federal and state courts throughout the country, including the US Supreme Court. He has also held key leadership positions in the legal community, including recently being elected board president of the New York City Legal Aid Society. He has a long and distinguished career of leadership and involvement in the Jewish community in addition to his service at JTS. He was a key member of the legal team in the Charlottesville case. 


The annual Bernard G. Segal Memorial Lecture was established by JTS in honor of the late philanthropist and community leader. Mr. Segal was the first Jewish president of the American Bar Association and the first Jewish chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.