Slate's Dahlia Lithwick Accepts Legal Journalism Award
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The VBA presented its Award for Excellence in Legal Journalism to the author of Slate's "Supreme Court Dispatches" and host of the Amicus podcast, Dahlia Lithwick. She has covered the U.S. Supreme Court for 17 years.
Lithwick is a senior editor at Slate. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, New Republic and Elle. Before joining Slate, she worked for a family law firm in Nevada. Lithwick graduated from Yale University and Stanford University Law School.
"Dahlia spoke at the Young Lawyers Division meeting this year and was riveting," 2016 VBA President James Patrick Guy II said upon presenting the award at the 127th VBA Annual Meeting in Williamsburg on Jan. 20. "Her perspectives, her insights just are striking. You can't get bored listening to her."
Lithwick thanked the VBA for the award and addressed the banquet crowd:
"In every single important way, the court has changed and really affected me much more than I have changed or affected the court," said the journalist who was informed early on that everybody at the court referred to her as the barbarian at the gate.
"After 17 years of covering the court, I have become such a fan of the mode of communication that rests on decorum, that rests on the presumption of good faith, civility, the existence of actual fact in the world. More and more, the things that used to strike me as kind of bloodless and boring features of the court have become the things that I think are models for journalism everywhere. And so I want to really ask you, as lawyers, to help step into this space.
"I think it's fair to say that journalism is functionally broken right now, that we have broken trust with our readers," she continued. "We have made mistakes. We have chased cliques. We have done a lot wrong.
"But I really believe that lawyers have all the tools and the wherewithal and the passion to help be in the space and the public sphere, to model civility, to model good faith, to model respect for opposing arguments. So I just want to end by imploring you ... [to] be a part of the project of lighting the way, as lawyers, as thinkers, as civil cordial members of society. Be a part of helping us talk to each other in America again. Thank you very much."
This is the third time the VBA Award of Excellence in Legal Journalism has been presented. Previous recipients were Virginia Lawyers Weekly and Virginia Business magazine, each in recognition of 25 years of service to the legal community in 2012, and in 2010 to three journalists at the Bristol Herald Courier. J. Todd Foster, Daniel Gilbert and Carl Esposito delivered a newspaper series about mismanagement of natural gas royalties owed to Southwest Virginia landowners. The articles spurred action by state lawmakers and garnered a Pulitzer Prize for public service.