|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 ABA Annual 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 Stanford Law School, 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.