Social Justice & Public Interest

From his days as a student at U.C Berkeley, Peter Franck has been committed to free speech, democratic rights, and creating a better society.

He was one of the lawyers for Mario Savio and other students involved in the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at U.C Berkeley in the 1960s. His involvement with the National Lawyer’s Guild’s Committee on Democratic Communications (CDC) was critical in the low power (FM micro radio) movement, where he helped radio operators expand the bandwidth of democratic communication.

While at U.C Berkeley’s Boalt Law School, Peter researched the constitutional rights of university students, which contributed to the intellectual and legal structure of the FSM. He was a founding member of SLATE, one of the first student political parties to emerge from the McCarthy period. Through the Counsel For Justice, he organized legal defense for Vietnam War demonstrators, and provided early counsel for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers. He also provided legal defense for student strikers at San Francisco State University.

A prolific writer, Peter edited “The Law, Peace, and the Mass Media”, a special issue of The Guild Practitioner. As a member of the CDC he also edited a second special issue, “The Law, Peace, the Mass Media, and the First Amendment.” The spring 2014 issue of Social Policy magazine carries two articles by Peter on the past and future of Community Radio (LPFM).

Together with Luke Hiken, Peter filed an amicus curiae brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Dugan v. FCC, arguing for the constitutional right to micro-broadcasting (aka Pirate Radio). He was Amicus Counsel in the U.S. vs. Dunnifer case, a key legal test of the first amendment rights of LPFM broadcasters.

Additional Highlights

  • Former Board Member and past President of the Pacifica Foundation (1980-1984). Peter was instrumental in the growth of the five station Pacifica Radio network, including KPFA in Berkeley
  • Founding Chair of the Berkeley/Albany chapter of the ACLU
  • Past Member of the Board of Conveners for the San Francisco Community Television Corporation
  • Delegate to the 1989 McBride Roundtable on Communications in Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Long-term member of the National Lawyers’ Guild (NLG); served as National Treasurer of the organization from 1992-1993. Board Member of Media Alliance in San Francisco from 1989-1992
  • Former chair of Media Action Marin, which was instrumental in the creation of the Community Media Center of Marin
  • Former member of the Board of the Social Justice Center of Marin (SJCM)
  • Founder and former board member of Alameda Community Radio, now KACR-LP