The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation bestowed its Lifetime Achievement on Norman Dorsen, Frederick I. and Grace A. Stokes Professor of Law, at its First Amendment Awards ceremony on May 20.

Norman DorsenEstablished in 1979, the First Amendment Awards honor individuals who have strived to “protect and enhance First Amendment rights for all Americans.”

Dorsen was honored for his work at the “forefront of the fight to advance fundamental freedoms and protect civil rights and civil liberties.” His devotion to this cause stretches over half a century, and has included teaching at the Law School (since 1961), founding the Hauser Global Law School Program (1994), and serving as the co-director of the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program, a role he has also held since 1961.

During his career, he has argued groundbreaking Supreme Court cases, including In re Gault (1967), which won for juveniles the right to due process, and Levy v. Louisiana (1968), which upheld the constitutional rights of children born out of wedlock. He later helped write the petitioner’s brief in Roe v. Wade. Dorsen has had a part in many of the most significant first amendment cases of the latter half of the 20th centruy, including writing amicus curiae briefs for Gideon v. Wainwright, the Pentagon Papers case, and the Nixon tapes case.

Dorsen also served as general counsel (1969-76) and later president (1976-91) of the American Civil Liberties Union. His impact at the ACLU was invaluable: he guided the organization through the public backlash over the 1971 Skokie case and resolved many of its internal fissures. Last year, the organization established an award in his name.

Glenn Greenwald ’94, now editor of The Intercept, will also be honored for his contributions to journalism, in particular for publishing the first reports on the NSA surveillance programs.

This year’s judges included Joan Bertin ’73, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship and a former Hays fellow herself.

Posted May 27, 2014