WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Library Association (ALA) today announces that the winner of the annual James Madison Award is Thomas M. Susman, the director of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Government Affairs Office.
The James Madison Award, named in honor of President James Madison, was established by the ALA in 1986 to honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s “right to know” on the national level.
The honor is presented annually on the anniversary of Madison’s birth during Freedom of Information (FOI) Day. Susman will be presented with the award Friday, March 13, 2009, during the Freedom Forum’s 11th Annual National FOI Day Conference to be held in the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center.
ALA President Jim Rettig said Susman, who practiced with the D.C. law firm Ropes & Gray for 27 years before being named to his current position at the ABA in 2008, has shown a long commitment to the importance of open access to government information.
“Tom has stood shoulder to shoulder with our nation’s librarians in our efforts to make government information available to the public and our long, historic fights to protect library patrons’ privacy,” Rettig said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT), the 1989 winner of the ALA James Madison Award, said Susman has been a steady defender the public’s “right to know.”
“Tom Susman has seen the importance of the public’s ‘right to know’ both from inside and outside the realm of policymaking,” Leahy said.
“He has also seen the fragility of laws like the Freedom of Information Act, especially when agencies drag their feet. Tom has always been a dependable ally in the struggle to keep the flame alive.”