The American Bar Association has selected Lambda Legal Board Co-Chair Paul M. Smith to receive the 2010 Thurgood Marshall Award. The award, given annually by the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, recognizes substantial, long-term contributions to the advancement of civil rights, civil liberties and human rights in the United States. Among his many achievements, Smith successfully argued Lambda Legal’s landmark 2003 Supreme Court victory, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down all remaining state criminal sodomy statutes.
Smith is a partner in Jenner & Block’s Washington, DC office and is Co–Chair of the Firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court, and Media and First Amendment Practices. He has an active Supreme Court practice including thirteen oral arguments before the Court. He was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. and has served on Lambda Legal’s Board of Directors since 2005.
“We are very proud of Paul and join the ABA in honoring his contributions to civil rights, especially for the LGBT community,” said Kevin M. Cathcart, Lambda Legal Executive Director. “When he successfully argued the Lawrence case before the Supreme Court, he played a tremendous and historic role in our movement. In receiving this award, he joins other heroes in this country’s fight for civil rights and equality for all – and he has earned his place among them.”
The section of the ABA established the award in 1992, conferring the inaugural award on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Since that time, recipients have included Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Ralph Abascal, farmworker and immigrant rights advocate; and Dale Minami, who led the legal team that successfully overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu who, along with thousands of other Japanese Americans, was wrongfully interned during WWII.