SOURCE: Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards

Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards

July 12, 2017 09:00 ET

Hugh M. Hefner Foundation Announces First Amendment Award Winners for 2017

Renowned civil liberties lawyer Burt Neuborne to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - July 12, 2017) - The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation is pleased to announce its 2017 First Amendment Award winners to those who have dedicated their profession, and some their lives, to upholding and exercising their First Amendment rights.

Christie Hefner established the Awards in 1979, in conjunction with Playboy Magazine's 25th anniversary, to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for all Americans. A press reception with the winners and judges will be held on August 7, 2017 at the Playboy Mansion.

This year's Lifetime Achievement Award will be bestowed upon Burt Neuborne, the Norman Dorsen Professor of Civil Liberties at NYU Law School, who for 45 years has been one of the nation's foremost civil liberties lawyers. He receives a Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award for his unwavering defense of civil liberties and civil rights and who, as founding legal director for The Brennan Center for Justice, had the vision and foresight to spearhead its establishment.

Highlights of Professor Neuborne's career include serving as National Legal Director of the ACLU from 1981-1986, Special Counsel to the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund from 1990-1996, and as a member of the New York City Human Rights Commission from 1988-1992. He has argued numerous Supreme Court cases and has litigated hundreds of important constitutional cases in the state and federal courts. From 1995 to 2007, he directed the legal program of the Brennan Center, focusing on efforts to reinforce American democracy and secure campaign finance reform. The Brennan Center was established in 1994 to honor Justice William Brennan, Jr.'s monumental contribution to American Law.

"For decades, the First Amendment Awards have honored and celebrated distinguished individuals whose actions support and often fight to preserve the values of the First Amendment," says Christie Hefner, Chairman of the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards. "Especially now, it feels like the First Amendment is under assault, so it is more important than ever that we recognize those who fight to preserve this precious right."

Additional award winners, many of whom are unsung heroes, come from various walks of life and include:

Hasan Elahi (Arts & Entertainment), Associate Professor, Department of Art at the University of Maryland. Elahi is an interdisciplinary artist who asks Americans to explore issues in surveillance, privacy, migration, citizenship, technology, and the challenges of borders. An erroneous tip called into law enforcement authorities in 2002 subjected Elahi to an intensive investigation by the FBI. After undergoing months of interrogations before he was cleared of suspicions, Elahi conceived "Tracking Transience" and opened almost every aspect of his life to the public. Predating public knowledge of the NSA's PRISM surveillance program by over a decade, his project questions the consequences of living under constant surveillance and continuously generates databases of imagery that tracks the artist and his points of transit in real-time. Although initially created for his FBI agent, the public can also monitor the artist's communication records, banking transactions, and transportation logs along with various intelligence and government agencies who have been confirmed visiting his website.

Timothy Garton Ash (Book Publishing), Awarded for his book, Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World (Yale University Press, 2016), that encourages us to examine how well-tried liberal principles can be applied and defended in daunting new circumstances. Professor Ash is the author of nine other books of political writing which have charted the transformation of Europe over the last forty years. He is the Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony's College and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His essays appear regularly in the New York Review of Books and he writes a column on international affairs in the Guardian, which is widely syndicated in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Professor Ash established Free Speech Debate (freespeechdebate.com), a multilingual dynamic website devoted to free speech worldwide.

Jenni Monet (Print Journalism), Independent journalist and member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe. Monet's dispatches for Indian Country Media Network, Reveal, the Center for Investigative Reporting, PBS Newshour, High Country News and Yes! Magazine on the protests opposing the $3.8 billion project and the months-long militarized protection of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is critical to understanding a volatile, important moment in American history. One of the most consistent voices from Standing Rock, Monet faithfully covered the protests when all other media moved on, providing important detail and context in a fair and accurate manner. She was wearing press credentials when she was arrested in February 2017. She still faces charges for criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot.

This year's distinguished judges and presenters include:

Erwin Chemerinsky, esteemed educator, litigator and legal scholar is Dean and and Professor of Law, University of California Berkeley School of Law. He was the founding dean of UC Irvine School of Law, a position he held for the past nine years. His five-year term at Berkeley began on July 1, 2017. While at Irvine, Chemerinsky also served as the Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law. His areas of expertise are constitutional law, federal practice, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation. He is the author of eight books, including The Case Against the Supreme Court published in 2014, and more than 200 articles in top law reviews.

Lara Bergthold, a Principal Partner at RALLY, is a campaign and communications strategist with a wealth of experience in positions such as philanthropic advisor, political and communications strategist, presidential senior campaign advisor, and PAC director. Since 1997, Bergthold has served as Executive Director of the Lear Family Foundation, a private foundation of Lyn and Norman Lear, where she has directed millions of dollars of grants annually to progressive organizations working on civil liberties, civil rights, the environment and the arts, among others.

Davan Maharaj, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the Los Angeles Times Media Group, oversees the largest daily newsgathering organization in the West. It includes the flagship Los Angeles Times and latimes.com; Times Community News, which consists of six suburban daily and weekly newspapers and websites; and the Spanish-language Hoy and Fin de Semana newspapers and websites. Maharaj, a 26-year veteran of The Times, added publisher to his title in March 2016. He was named editor and executive vice president in 2011.

About the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation:

The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation was established to work on behalf of individual rights in a democratic society. The primary focus of the foundation is to support organizations that advocate for and defend civil rights and civil liberties with special emphasis on First Amendment rights and rational sex and drug policies. For a complete list of past winners and judges, please visit: http://hmhfoundation.org/site/?page_id=90/

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