About the Author


Neil Thomas Proto’s public service and private practice in law includes forty five years of experience in land use, environmental and federal litigation, teaching at Yale and Georgetown University and writing and speaking on a broad range of cultural and legal matters. He also is the author of To A High Court, The Tumult and Choices That Led to United States of America v. SCRAP (2006; see www.Toahighcourt.com), and numerous articles, book reviews, and short fiction (see www.NeilThomasProto.com)

Since 1972, both as an appellate attorney with the United States Department of Justice (Environment and Natural Resources Division, 1972 to 1979) and in private practice in Washington, DC, Mr. Proto has been involved in numerous legal, cultural and political challenges, including his representation, pro bono, of Protect Historic America (authors and historians such as David McCullough and James McPherson), in its effort to stop Disney from locating in the Virginia Piedmont. In 1993, Mr. Proto drafted a unique statutory scheme at the behest of the State of Hawaii that resulted in the conveyance of Kaho’olawe Island from the United States to Hawaii for the special use of Native Hawaiians. He continued to represent Hawaii as counsel in its dealings with the United States through 2013. He has given two papers on the experience: “Culture Into Law: The Conveyance of Kaho’olawe Island” (1995, Honolulu) and “Kaho’olawe: The Lawyer’s Duty” (2005, University of Washington Law School, Seattle).


Mr.Proto is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt Public Policy Institute, where he has taught interdisciplinary courses on environmental values and energy choices, climate change and corporations, history and law of nuclear power, and urban policy and sprawl. As a Visiting Lecturer at Yale College (1988, 1989), he taught the history and law of commercial nuclear power. Earlier in his career, he served as General Counsel to the President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee, chaired by then Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt.

In April 2010 he served as a senior advisor to the United States Naval Academy’s Foreign Affairs Conference on “National Security Beyond the Horizon: Changing Threats in a Changing World,” and, in August 2010, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London.

He has written many articles, including:
“The Opinion Clause and Presidential Decision Making”, (44 Missouri Law Review 185 (1978)
“Preservation of Baseball Tradition Is at Stake in Rose Debate,” New Haven Register (1989)
Drifting in Space: Values and a Policy Vacuum,” Chicago Tribune (1987)
Three Mile Island: A Breach of Faith Not Yet Repaired,” Chicago Tribune (1989)”
Illicit Plants, Threatening Sovereignty and Home and Abroad,” The Christian Science Monitor (1989)

His most recent talks:
“The Idea of Progress and Global Warming: The Rise, Fall and Dilemma Of Nuclear Power,” and “The Idea of Progress and Global Warming: General Motors, the Demise Of Transit, and the Duty of Government,” Lectures, University of Washington Law School (February 2009)

His most recent publications:
PERSPECTIVE: Roberts Took Narrow View of Court’s Power to Decide” (New York Law Journal, September, 2005)
PERSPECTIVE: Roberts Took Narrow View of Court’s Power to DecidePERSPECTIVE: Roberts Took Narrow View of Court’s Power to Decide“, New Haven Register (2008)

The compilation of his work on Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco (2007) and other written works are available on (www.SaccoVanzettiExperience.com).

Mr. Proto was elected to the Board of Directors of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (Hyde Park, New York), in July 2004 for a three year term. He had served on the original Advisory Board of the student- created Roosevelt Institution before its merger with the Roosevelt Institute. He continues to serve (since 1995) as chair of the American Friends of Wilton Park, a British-American educational organization with origins in World War II. He sat on the Board of Directors of the Shubert and Long Wharf Theatres in New Haven, Connecticut and served as chair of the City of New Haven’s Committee for the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Execution of Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco. He also co-adapted from the original Dutch (with director Tony Giordano) the musical drama, The American Dream, The Story of Sacco and Vanzetti (performed at the Shubert in April 2002).

Mr. Proto was a recipient of the Department of Justice Special Commendation Award for Outstanding Service and the Environment and Natural Resources Division Award for Meritorious Service. Mr. Proto also received the Distinguished Alumnus Awards from Southern Connecticut State University in 1981. He is a member of the United States Supreme Court and District of Columbia bar.

In December 2013,  Mr. Proto donated the books, many out of print, notes, official congressional documents, and related research materials that formed the basis for The Rights of My People to the University of Hawaii Law School. The donation was conditioned on a new research direction concerning Liliuokalani’s time on the continental United States in her battle for the Crown Lands.(see letter from Dean Aviam Soifer and Professor Melody MacKenzie)