U.S. Sen. Leahy to Receive First Amendment Award; Limited Tickets Remain, Purchase Deadline Tonight


CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | justin@nefac.org


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The New England First Amendment Coalition will present U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a long-time champion of press freedom and First Amendment rights, with its 2016 Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award on Friday in Boston.

Leahy, the nation’s longest serving senator and the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, will be a key figure in the coming weeks and months during an expected political battle as President Barack Obama tries to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court due to the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

A limited number of tickets remain available for the press and general public to attend the luncheon honoring Leahy for his work on behalf of the First Amendment. Jenifer McKim, a journalist at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, and Michael A. Champa, a philanthropist and open government advocate, will also be honored.

Tickets to the luncheon are $100 each and can be purchased here. The deadline to purchase is 7 p.m. tonight. Those unable to attend can support the luncheon by contributing here. NEFAC’s annual New England First Amendment Awards luncheon is from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. The event is held in conjunction with the New England Newspaper & Press Association‘s annual two-day convention.

Leahy displayed a deep belief in the First Amendment and press freedom during his eight years as a prosecutor in Vermont and that belief continued to grow after his election to the Senate in November 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

The son of parents who owned a small private printing company in Vermont’s capital, Leahy has said that he comes by his “deep appreciation of the First Amendment honestly. It’s in my blood.” He is perhaps best known for his work to strengthen the federal Freedom of Information Act and his efforts to improve transparency within the court system, most notably his calls for televised court proceedings.

The Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award is named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal and given each year to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment throughout his or her career. Previous Hamblett Award recipients include Anthony Lewis, the late author and columnist for The New York TimesMartin BaronWashington Post executive editor and former Boston Globe editor; Philip BalboniGlobalPost  co-founder and CEO; James Risen, investigative reporter for The New York Times; and former federal judge Nancy Gertner.

Sponsors, contributors and table hosts for this year’s luncheon include: The Boston Globe, Boston University, Blish & Cavanagh, Northeastern University, Prince Lobel Tye, WBUR-Boston and WFXT-Boston.


NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Donations can be made here. Major Supporters of NEFAC for this year include: The Robertson Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Boston Globe and Boston University.