Sen. Russell Feingold served in the U.S. Senate from 1993–2011. In 2001, he was the only Senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act, based on civil liberties concerns. When the Act came up for reauthorization in 2005 and 2009, he led efforts to correct some of its most controversial elements, including trying to narrow the FBI's ability to obtain library, book store, and business records outside regular court channels. After leaving the Senate in 2011, Feingold formed ProgressivesUnited, a public education and advocacy organization founded in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
Thank you, Russ Feingold, your career-long commitment to protecting the civil liberties of all Americans. As the only vote in the U.S. Senate against the USA Patriot Act in 2001, you inspired millions of people for whom privacy, transparency, judicial review, and due process remain fundamental values.
Thank you, Russ, for your thoughtful and vital defense of what it means to be free during a time when such defenses were difficult to come across.
Thank you for your leadership by example in continuing to oppose the Patriot Act and working to narrow its scope during its reauthorization process in 2005 and 2009. The library community thanks you in particular for your efforts to protect borrowing and other user records from unwarranted government inspection.
As concerns about government surveillance have reemerged, we are grateful to you for having understood and articulated the need to balance national security interests with civil liberties. We are pleased to honor your courage and determination with this award.
Candace D. Morgan, President Barbara M. Jones, Executive Director