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May 28, 2024

Nominations sought for 2024 James Madison Award

By Kathryn Montalbano

First Amendment

First Amendment

The University of Kentucky Scripps Howard First Amendment Center is accepting nominations for its James Madison Award, which honors a Kentuckian who is a champion of the First Amendment. The center, in the College of Communication and Information's School of Journalism and Media, is accepting nominations to recognize those whose contributions protect or expand First Amendment freedoms.

The nominator must submit a letter identifying the nominee, listing the nominee’s address, phone number and position and explain why the nominee would be a worthy recipient. The letter should detail the specific efforts taken on behalf of First Amendment rights and should discuss obstacles and difficulties as well as the impact of the nominee’s efforts.

The James Madison Award recognizes someone who has worked in one or more of these areas: open government and open records; promotion of the watchdog role of the press, defense against government or private censorship, or robust debate in the marketplace of ideas.

Nominees must have significant ties to Kentucky and their efforts must have resulted in the preservation or expansion of freedom of the press and/or freedom of speech. Dedication to the First Amendment principle of free expression is not accomplished in a day’s work but rather a lifetime. Thus, the award recognizes a long-term commitment to such ideals.

Honorees do not have to be journalists. Nominees may include, for example, educators, lawyers, judges, scholars, librarians, students or ordinary citizens. The most deserving recipient will be someone who has made a significant contribution regardless of how much public attention it has received.

Send nomination letters via email to Kathryn Montalbano, coordinator, Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, at, by Friday, Aug. 23.

This year’s State of the First Amendment Address and James Madison Award will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26, from 5-7 p.m. Michael (“Mike”) Abate, a preeminent First Amendment advocate, defender of government transparency and litigator with Kaplan, Johnson, Abate & Bird in Louisville, will deliver the Address. Abate has worked with journalists from numerous news organizations and groups since moving to Kentucky from Washington D.C., 10 years ago, including the Courier Journal, Louisville Public Media and the Kentucky Press Association. Event details will follow.

For more information about the James Madison Award and past winners, visit

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