Appeals court judge to be given Presidential Medal of Freedom

Chris Rizo Jun. 11, 2008, 4:14pm

Laurence Silberman

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-President George W. Bush will award the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman, the White House announced Wednesday.

Silberman sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is considered the second-most powerful court in the country and a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in October 1985.

In 2002, Silberman served on the clandestine U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Then, in 2004, he and former Sen. Charles Robb, D-Va., co-chaired a White House commission that investigated pre-Iraq war intelligence failures.

The bipartisan commission found that the U.S. intelligence community was "dead wrong" in most of its assessment leading up to the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

"Laurence H. Silberman has devoted his life to promoting, enforcing, and defending the rule of law," the White House said. "He has been a stalwart guardian of the Constitution, and his work to strengthen our national security institutions has made Americans safer."

The Medal of Freedom was established by President Harry Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II. The award was reinstated by President John Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished civilian service.

The White House said in a statement the award honors "especially meritorious" contributions to U.S. security, world peace or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Also receiving the distinguished award June 19 is retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami; and Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading HIV/AIDS researcher.

Also being honored is Dr. Benjamin Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon; and U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, will be given the award posthumously.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at

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