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Thurgood Marshall Legacy Lives On

WASHINGTON - The American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities will honor civil liberties and human rights attorney Paul M. Smith with the  Thurgood Marshall Award, which will be presented Saturday at the ABAAnnual Meeting in San Francisco.  The event will be held at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis beginning at 8 p.m.

 

A partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Jenner & Block, Smith is one of the country’s leading lawyers in the areas of First Amendment litigation and appellate advocacy.  He has presented oral argument in more than a dozen Supreme Court cases, including his groundbreaking advocacy in Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark gay rights case that is often compared in significance to the Brown v. Board of Education case, which was argued and won by Thurgood Marshall. 

 

Smith has not only led the way in advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights, but has also been a leading advocate in addressing voting rights issues, including arguing three times before the U.S. Supreme Court in voting rights matters since 2004.  His most recent argument was in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, a 2008 case challenging an Indiana voter ID law.  The case has been called the most significant election law case to reach the court since Bush v. Gore in 2000.  Smith has also been a leader in advancing freedom of speech issues, especially with regard to the application of the First Amendment to the Internet and video games. 

 

The Thurgood Marshall Award recognizes substantial, long-term contributions to the advancement of civil rights, civil liberties and human rights in the United States.  The section established the award in 1992, conferring the inaugural award upon U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.  Since that time, recipients have included:

 

1993     Judge Frank M. Johnson                                     1994     Oliver W. Hill

1995     Ralph S. Abascal                                               1996     Jack Greenberg

1997     Judge Damon J. Keith                                         1998     Stephen B. Bright

1999     Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg                2000     Judge Revius Q. Ortique, Jr.

2001     Judge William Wayne Justice                              2002     Judge Don Edwards

2003     Dale Minami                                                       2004     Fred D. Gray

2005     Judge Abner J. Mikva                                          2006     Julius Chambers

2007     Judge Matthew J. Perry, Jr.                                 2008     Judge Nancy Gertner

2009     Former Attorney General Janet Reno

 

The keynote speaker for this year’s event will be Pamela S. Karlan, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at StanfordLawSchool, and the founding director of the school’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.  One of the nation’s leading experts on voting and the political process, Karlan has served as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission and an assistant counsel and cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  She is a former law clerk of Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Abraham D. Sofaer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.



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