ACLU Recognizes Leaders in Reproductive Freedom and Racial Justice with Prestigious Civil Liberties Awards

June 6, 2024 3:00 pm

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ATLANTA — The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that Cecile Richards and Paul Butler have been selected as recipients of two prestigious biennial awards recognizing lifetime achievements and contributions to civil rights and civil liberties.

Cecile Richards, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and co-founder of women’s political action group Supermajority, was awarded the Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty, the ACLU’s highest honor acknowledging individuals who have made lifetime contributions to the advancement of civil liberties. The medal, first awarded in 1989 and named for ACLU founder Roger N. Baldwin, comes with a cash award of $30,000.

Paul Butler, a former prosecutor and current professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was awarded the ACLU Presidential Prize, which is granted to a full-time academic in any discipline to honor outstanding, lifetime contributions to civil rights and liberties in academia. The prize was first awarded in 2013.

“Cecile Richards and Paul Butler have both fought for decades to defend and advance civil rights and liberties. At Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards led the charge to defend reproductive freedom amid unprecedented attacks, working alongside the ACLU and others to challenge abortion bans and restrictions in the courts, and advocating for expanded protections for reproductive rights at the ballot box and in statehouses. Paul Butler, both as a prosecutor and professor at Georgetown, has been a powerful voice shedding light on the racism that continues to infect the criminal legal system,” said Deborah N. Archer, ACLU president. “We are thrilled for this opportunity to acknowledge their work and contributions with the ACLU’s highest honors.”

Cecile Richards started her career in the labor movement, working as an organizer for service workers including garment workers, nursing home workers, and janitors. She later served as deputy chief of staff for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi before being named president of the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America. During her time at Planned Parenthood, she worked to expand access to birth control and other reproductive health care under the Affordable Care Act, expanded Planned Parenthood’s services, and stood up against an onslaught of abortion bans long before Roe v. Wade was overturned. After leading the organization for 12 years, Richards left and later founded Supermajority, a women’s political action group that seeks to train and mobilize women to be organizers, activists, and leaders. She was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2011 and 2012.

Paul Butler is a leading scholar on issues involving race and the criminal legal system. Prior to joining academia, he was a prosecutor with the Justice Department, working on cases involving public corruption during which he brought cases against a U.S. senator, FBI agents, and a number of law enforcement officers. Since joining Georgetown University Law Center, Butler has authored numerous scholarly articles, books, and columns; delivered lectures before the ABA, NAACP, and numerous colleges; and has been recognized with the Distinguished Faculty Service Award thrice.

The awards will be bestowed this Saturday, June 8 at the ACLU’s Biennial Leadership Conference in Atlanta.

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