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William J. Brennan, Jr. Defense of Freedom Award

BrennanAwardThe William J. Brennan, Jr. Defense of Freedom Award was established to honor those whose actions have advanced the cause of freedom of expression. The award serves as a symbol and celebration of the principles of the First Amendment.

It is altogether fitting that this award is given in the name of the Honorable William J. Brennan, Jr., its first recipient. Justice Brennan was more than an impassioned voice for the principles of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment. On the Supreme Court, he was a consensus builder and leader who was able to turn those principles into law. Justice Brennan read the First Amendment broadly, not just to protect the rights of the institutional press, but to guarantee the right of free speech for all Americans. And in over three decades on the Court, he repeatedly wrote his understanding of the Amendment into law in a series of landmark cases that will govern how Americans understand their society and their role in it for years to come.

2019: Besieged Journalists Abroad (Accepted by Maria Ressa and Hatice Cengiz)

2016: Daniel Ellsburg

2011: Anthony Lewis

2009: Václav Havel

2007: David Fanning

2004: Ted Turner

2003: Howard H. "Tim" Hays

2002: War correspondents (collectively)

1999: Floyd Abrams

1998: Civil rights journalists of the 1950's and 1960's (collectively)

1997: Fred Friendly

1996: Katherine Graham and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger

1995: The Honorable Harry A. Blackmun

1994: Dr. Jan Moor-Jankowski

1992: The Honorable William J. Brennan, Jr.