Monday, March 4, 2013

Lawyer Kim Greene wins UK's James Madison Award for service to the First Amendment

Kim Greene, who was one of Kentucky's leading First Amendment lawyers, received the James Madison Award tonight from the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky. The center presents the award for outstanding service to the First Amendment by someone with ties to Kentucky.

Greene, of Louisville, was instrumental in starting the Freedom of Information Hotline for the Kentucky Press Association in 1986. It remains the only such free hotline for newspapers in the U.S. In 1996 she helped start KPA's Legal Defense Fund Hotline. She was named KPA's most valuable member in 2001.

Greene represented many Kentucky newsrooms. Max Heath, who was executive editor of Landmark Community Newspapers, said in his nomination that she was "a velvet hammer" as an attorney, always smooth and professional but firm in her advocacy. She won the First Prize from the Louisville Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2005 for her First Amendment work.

Greene, a native of Ashland, told the crowd at UK's Young Library Auditorium that she fell in love with the First Amendment when she was in law school, then with journalists who used it to serve the public. "The First Amendment is just that special ingredient that makes our country so different from all others," she said.

Greene told the student journalists in the audience, "there's hardly any more important work in our country that you could be doing." She is married to First Amendment lawyer Jon Fleischaker, won won the Madison Award several years ago.

Grayson, left, speaks with UK accounting
senior Aleksey Graboviy after his speech.
(Kentucky Kernel photo by Tessa Lighty)
The award was presented at the center's annual Celebration of the First Amendment. The annual "State of the First Amendment" address was given by Trey Grayson, director of the Institute on Politics in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Kentucky's secretary of state from 2004 to 2011.

Grayson spoke on occasional conflicts of the First Amendment with the right to vote, as seen in news-media coverage of voting and the ubiquity of cameras, which pose threats to the privacy of voting, and Kentucky's law on electioneering near voting places, passed after a federal appeals court struck down a ban on electioneering within 500 feet of the polls, with an exception for private property. Current law sets a 300-foot limit with no private-property exception, and "That strikes me as still being a little broad," Grayson said.