Robert O'Neil was the recipient of the 2010 Roll of Honor Award.
He began his legal career as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., in 1962, and from there held a number of positions in academia, including president of the University of Virginia. As founding director of the Thomas Jefferson Center, he helped establish the “Jefferson Muzzles,” which call attention to those who have abridged free speech and press.
THANK YOU, Robert M. O’Neil, for your unstinting dedication to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and to the principles of free access to information and free expression that underlie it.
Thank you, Robert, for founding the Thomas Jefferson Center at the University of Virginia. Through your work there, and particularly with the “Jefferson Muzzles,” you have brought attention to ongoing abridgements of speech and the press—across the ideological spectrum.
Thank you for your support of the Freedom to Read Foundation over four decades, including providing the keynote address at the Foundation’s 10th Anniversary celebration. Thank you for your collaborations with FTRF in major legal briefs, and for recognizing the pioneering work of founding FTRF Executive Director Judith Krug with the Thomas Jefferson Center’s prestigious William J. Brennan Award.
Thank you for your commitment to academic freedom, which is an indispensable component of intellectual freedom. Your work with the American Association of University Professors, your stewardship of the University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin, and your writing and speaking on academic freedom have made you one of the foremost experts and leaders on the subject.
Thank you, Robert M. O’Neil, for your commitment to education, the arts, new technologies, and other means of communicating the value of free speech. Thank you for employing such great humor and generosity of spirit in carrying out your life’s work. You have helped expand the legal basis for the rights we work to defend. It is our distinct pleasure to add your name to the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Roll of Honor.
Kenton Oliver, President Barbara M. Jones, Executive Director