The Constitutional Champion Award is presented annually to individuals and organizations who have dedicated themselves to defending our nation’s Constitution and the principles it embodies. TCP is honored to have bestowed this prestigious award on the following for their efforts to defend the American ideals of liberty, justice, and democracy:
On April 29, 2016, TCP honored Senator Dianne Feinstein of California for her outstanding courage and leadership, both as an overseer and a legislator, in her efforts to ensure that the United States never again engages in government-sanctioned torture or cruel treatment of suspected terrorists; George Will, for his persuasive writing about our broken criminal justice system and principled stand in support of reform; and the late Representative Don Edwards, who often sought out unlikely allies to advance bipartisan bills to protect constitutional values and improve the administration of justice.
On April 22, 2015 TCP honored Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, for their outstanding leadership in advocating for bipartisan reforms to our criminal justice system, and for their continued efforts to protect against the erosion of constitutional rights and principles in the name of national security; and Twitter, Inc., in recognition of its courageous leadership on first amendment and privacy issues.
2014 – Gary B. Pruitt, Brendan V. Sullivan Jr., Robert M. Cary and other members of the late Senator Ted Stevens’ legal team at Williams & Connolly LLP; and Henry F. Schuelke III and William B. Shields
On April 24, 2014 TCP honored Gary B. Pruitt, the head of the Associated Press, for publicly challenging the government’s unprecedented use of surveillance to intimidate journalists; Brendan V. Sullivan Jr., Robert M. Cary and other members of the late Senator Ted Stevens’ (R-AK) legal team at Williams & Connolly LLP, for their insistence that federal prosecutors fulfill their constitutional obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence; and Henry F. Schuelke III, along with William B. Shields, his colleague at Blank Rome LLP, for writing a judicially-ordered report that highlighted the prosecutors’ failure to hand over exculpatory evidence in the Stevens case.
These four luminaries associated with the 1963 landmark right-to-counsel decision in Gideon v. Wainwright led the effort to reform our broken indigent defense system. Abe Krash represented Mr. Gideon; Bruce Jacob represented the state of Florida; Vice President Walter Mondale, then-Minnesota Attorney General, organized an influential amicus brief from 22 other attorneys general in Mr. Gideon’s favor; and the late Anthony Lewis authored “Gideon’s Trumpet,” which brought international attention to the indigent defense struggle.
David Keene, former chair of the American Conservative Union, is a leader in advocating for reforms to the criminal justice and national security systems. The Digital Due Process Coalition is a diverse coalition of technology companies, privacy advocates, and think tanks that promotes simplifying, clarifying, and providing stronger privacy protections for communications and associated data in response to changes in technology while preserving the tools needed to protect the public.
2011 – Judge Patricia Wald
Judge Patricia McGowan Wald has devoted decades of her career to public service, including her work as a judge, and then Chief Judge, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia—the first woman ever appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, her service on the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, and her continuing work for due process, fairness, and reform of the legal system.
The Honorable Thomas Pickering, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has advocated tirelessly for the rule of law, both domestically and internationally. George Kendall, director of the Public Service Initiative at Squire, Patton, & Boggs, LLP, is a leader in national efforts to reform the criminal justice system.
Alberto Mora, General Counsel of the Department of the Navy in the George W. Bush administration, led an effort within the Defense Department to end coercive interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Craig Watkins, then-District Attorney for Dallas County, Texas, worked to resolve cases of wrongful conviction through the use of DNA testing and the review of other exculpatory evidence.
2008 – Judge William S. Sessions
Judge William S. Sessions, who served three presidents as the Director of the FBI, was honored for his years of service, dedication and advocacy to due process and other justice reforms. Prior to joining the FBI, Sessions was the chief judge for the U.S. District Court in Western Texas, where he had previously served as United States Attorney.