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Cardozo Professor Awarded Highest French Honor

Richard Wesberg

Richard Weisberg (left), Cardozo’s Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law, was named to the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration given by the French Republic for outstanding service to France.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed a decree awarding Weisberg the Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor in recognition of his “contribution to the development of French-American relations in the defense of human rights, and in striving for the reparation of wrongs and of losses suffered by Jewish families during World War II.”

Weisberg has taught at Cardozo since 1977 and is an expert on the practice of law during the Vichy regime in the 1940s and wrote “Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France,” published in 1996 by New York University Press and translated into French in 1998.

Since 2001, he has represented plaintiffs to an oversight committee, consisting of American State Department and French government officials, which has responsibility for the restitution of banking assets stolen during the Vichy regime to victims or their heirs. He also worked on cases in American federal court against various banks and other institutions for their actions during the Holocaust.

Created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Legion of Honor recognizes distinguished military or civilian service and professional prominence. Nominees are appointed for life through a decree signed by the President of the Republic. Each year, about 10 Americans are recognized with this honor. Among those have been Colin Powell, Ronald Regan, Neil Armstrong, Robert De Niro and Estée Lauder.

“We are very proud that Richard Weisberg’s extensive legal and historical research and service to the French people are being recognized,” Cardozo Dean David Rudenstine said. “His work has uncovered disturbing truths that have important legal and civil implications worldwide, and here at Cardozo, his contributions enrich the law school for students and faculty alike.”

Weisberg is the second faculty member to receive this honor, after Michel Rosenfeld, the Justice Sydney L. Robins Professor of Human Rights and Director, Security, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, was awarded the Legion of Honor in 2004.