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June 13, 2011

Former Associate Justice John Paul Stevens Receives Wickersham Award For Public Service from Friends of the Law Library of Congress

The Friends of the Law Library of Congress have presented the 2011 Wickersham Award for exceptional public service and dedication to the legal profession to former Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. The award was presented today at a ceremony held in the historic Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.

Following the award presentation, Justice Stevens was interviewed by Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of "Washington Week" and senior correspondent for "PBS NewsHour." For broadcast information, go to www.pbs.org/newshour/ (external link).

Nominated by President Gerald Ford to replace the Court’s longest-serving justice, William O. Douglas, Justice Stevens served from Dec.19, 1975, until his retirement on June 29, 2010. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest member of the Court and the third-longest- serving justice in the Court’s history.

Also receiving an award from the Friends of the Law Library of Congress for his dedication to the Law Library of Congress was William C. Burton, Esq., a partner in Sagat|Burton LLP., New York and the founder and chairman of the Burton Awards for Legal Achievement. Burton received the inaugural Blackstone Award for his significant contributions to advancing the mission and activities of the Law Library of Congress.

The event featured a display of the "Casus breves" (1478) of Johannes de Turnhout, a recent gift to the Law Library of Congress from Julie Chrystyn Opperman in honor of her husband, Dwight D. Opperman. The two-volume, extraordinarily rare edition of the "Casus breves" reports the observations of major 14th-century civil law commentators. Only 13 copies of the 1478 edition—the oldest—are known to exist in the world.

The Wickersham Award is named for George Wickersham (1858-1936), former U.S. attorney general and co-founder of the American Law Institute. Wickersham also helped found the Friends of the Law Library in 1932 to encourage awareness and support for the Law Library of Congress, contribute to its collections and sponsor programs that promote a better understanding of the law. The Wickersham Award is presented annually to an individual who exemplifies exceptional public service and dedication to the legal profession. Past honorees include former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Louis Auchincloss, James A. Baker III, George Mitchell and Harold Koh.

The Blackstone Award is named for Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), the English jurist and politician whose great work, "Commentaries on the Laws of England," transformed the study of the common law. The Library has one of the finest collections of this seminal jurist’s papers in the world. Awarded for the first time in 2011, the Blackstone Award honors an individual whose significant dedication advances the mission and activities of the Law Library of Congress.

Founded in 1832, the mission of the Law Library is to make its resources available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court, other branches of the U.S. government and the global legal community, and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of law for future generations. With more than 2.6 million volumes, the Law Library contains the world’s largest collection of law books and other resources from all countries and provides online databases and guides to legal information worldwide through its website at www.loc.gov/law/.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

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PR 11-116
06/13/11
ISSN 0731-3527

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