David Carliner Award presentation
by Peter Wagner, August 12, 2014
In June, I was honored to receive the American Constitution Society’s 2014 David Carliner Public Interest Award. The award “recognizes outstanding public interest lawyers whose work best exemplifies its namesake’s legacy of fearless, uncompromising and creative advocacy on behalf of marginalized people.”
David Carliner (1918-2007) was one of the great public interest lawyers of the 20th Century. He challenged segregation and state bans on interracial marriage, and he fought for the rights of immigrants and the LGBT community. As the founder of the National Capital chapter of the ACLU and the International Human Rights Law Group (now GlobalRights), he was a strong defender of civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad. Carliner liked to say that one shouldn’t mind being an agitator since agitators are the ones who get the dirt out.
I consider the award both a big personal honor and a milestone for the criminal justice reform movement. I went to law school a decade ago when prison populations were going up, and up, and up seemed like the only future. Both the powers that be — and the established progressive movement — were ignoring criminal justice advocates and the idea of criminal justice reform. Things have changed, and it was an honor to celebrate that fact with more than a 1,000 progressive attorneys — including some of the colleagues who encouraged my work over the last decade.
The ACS recently made the video of the award presentation and my remarks available:
(The video starts with ACS President Caroline Fredrickson introducing the award, then David Carliner’s granddaughter Sarah Remes, presenting the award at 3:13, and then my remarks start at 6:30.)
And here are some pictures from that evening:
I met Justice Sotomayor at a reception prior to the award Ceremony.
The award was presented by David Carliner’s granddaughter, Sarah Remes.