Patrick Leahy, Rand Paul to be honored as constitutional champions

Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Judiciary squares off over John Lewis voting rights bill Senate Democrats introduce legislation to strengthen Voting Rights Act 92 legal scholars call on Harris to preside over Senate to include immigration in reconciliation MORE (D-Vt.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulVaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations MORE (R-Ky.) have been chosen to receive the Constitutional Champion Award for their efforts to reform the criminal justice system.

The Constitution Project, a D.C.-based bipartisan think tank, said it presents the annual awards to individuals and organizations that defend the Constitution and its principles.

In an op-ed piece, which ran in the Huffington Post late last week, project President Ginny Sloan said Leahy and Paul have “both have worked doggedly to build bipartisan consensus on a number of critical constitutional issues,” like NSA spying.


Last month, the senators revived the Justice Safety Valve Act, which aims to reduce the federal prison population by giving gives federal judges the authority to give sentences lower than the mandatory punishment in certain cases where the sentence violates standards for fair punishment laid out elsewhere in U.S. law.

“The proposed legislation would allow federal judges to tailor sentences on a case-by-case basis, returning them to the constitutional duties we expect of them,” Sloan wrote. “Such judicial discretion would help reduce the bloated federal prison population, while also ensuring that sentences fairly fit the circumstances of the crime and the offender.”

The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world.

Sloan also highlighted Leahy’s work over a decade ago with then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to include provisions in the federal law to ensure the death penalty is being administered fairly by allowing greater access to post-conviction DNA testing, reducing the risk of executing innocent people.

Leahy and Paul will be presented with their awards at The Constitution Project’s annual gala on April 22. Twitter Inc. will also receive a Constitutional Champion Award for its defense of the First Amendment.