The Los Angeles-based Hugh M. Hefner Foundation Friday put out a call for nominations for its annual awards that spotlight First Amendment defenders.
The 2020 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, “honor a group of individuals for their work to protect and enhance First Amendment freedoms for all Americans, and help educate and raise awareness of modern-day threats to free speech and free press in the U.S.”
The nomination application form can be found online at www.hmhfoundation.org/submission-form. The submission deadline is March 27.
The awards were founded by Christie Hefner in 1979 and have honored more than 150 individuals in journalism, education, law, book publishing, government and entertainment.
“The First Amendment Awards remind us of the modern-day challenges to our First Amendment rights,” she said. “Threats still exist, but our constitutional right to free speech and expression remain intact because of the brave individuals who have been honored over the past 40 years.
“During the awards, we recognize and celebrate the work of these everyday American heroes — high school students, lawyers, librarians, journalists and educators — who took a bold stand against infringement on their rights or the rights of their fellow Americans to protect our basic American rights.”
The awards ceremony will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. this summer. Details about the event will be provided when the winners are announced in the spring.
Winners will be selected by a panel of independent judges, including attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., who received the 2019 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in the Law category for his work on behalf of CNN and Jim Acosta in connection with the restoration of Acosta’s White House press credentials after the White House suspended his press access.
Boutrous also received the 2020 Freedom of Press Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Distinguished Leadership Award by PEN America in 2019 for his leadership in advancing rights and protecting freedom of expression.
The other judges are Kyle Pope, the editor-in-chief and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, who previously worked at the New York Observer and the Wall Street Journal; and Allison Stanger, an international politics and economics professor at Middlebury College who recently authored a book about the history of whistleblowers in the U.S.
Stanger received the 2018 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in the Education category for her work defending the free exchange of ideas on college campuses after an incident at Middlebury College, where she helped promote a speaking event featuring a conservative social scientist who was invited by a student group. She was injured during a violent confrontation after the event.
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