The Constitutional Commentary Award is presented annually during The Constitution Project’s Constitution Day event on September 17. This award recognizes exceptional critical analysis of the constitutional implications of public policy. The award is given to the author or producer of an outstanding work that has improved the quality of public discourse through insightful and articulate analysis of a constitutional issue of the day. Constitutional Commentary Award winners include:
2015 – James Risen
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen was honored for his body of work covering the post-9/11 national security state and for his 2014 book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, which offers a disturbing account of the lack of government transparency and accountability in the War on Terror.
Bestselling author Piper Kerman wrote the memoir “Orange is the New Black,” based on her time spent in a federal women’s prison, which was then turned into an Emmy-winning Netflix series. The show shines a light on the unique issues faced by women in U.S. prisons and the race, class, and gender-based inequalities in our criminal justice system.
Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns and his colleagues David McMahon and Sarah Burns created the documentary, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, which details the harrowing events that upended the lives of five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem, who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.
The authors of Top Secret America, Dana Priest and William Arkin, expose the top-secret world created by the government in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They describe a system that has become so enormous, so unwieldy, and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, or exactly how many agencies duplicate work being done elsewhere.
Jim and Nancy Petro wrote False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent, based in part on Jim Petro’s experience as the Republican Attorney General in Ohio. University of Virginia Law Professor Brandon Garrett wrote the definitive analysis of 250 wrongful convictions that were overturned using DNA, Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong.
2010 – Michelle Alexander
Michelle Alexander authored the acclaimed book, The New Jim Crow, which argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it …by targeting black men through the War on Drugs.”
2009 – Michael Kirk
Michael Kirk produced Frontline’s “Bush’s War” which PBS describes as “the epic story of how the Iraq war began and how it has been fought, both on the ground and in the government.”
2008 – Linda Greenhouse
Linda Greenhouse was honored for the body of her work covering the United States Supreme Court for The New York Times from 1978-2008. She won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1998.
2007 – Charlie Savage
Charlie Savage was honored for his book, titled Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 2007 for national reporting on the issue of Presidential Signing Statements.