Established by the American Bar Association and the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice (formerly the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities) in 1992, the Thurgood Marshall Award honors U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who epitomized individual commitment, in word and action, to the cause of civil rights in this country. The award recognizes similar long-term contributions by other members of the legal profession to the advancement of civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights in the United States.
American Bar Association members, leaders, and entities, as well as all other bar associations, are invited to submit nominations for the award. Nominations also are welcome from other groups or individuals that are involved in civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights issues. Re-nominations of individuals nominated in past years are encouraged; nomination packages should be updated as necessary and re-submitted electronically.
Nominees for the award must have made substantial and long-term contributions to the furtherance of civil rights, civil liberties, or human rights in this country. A "substantial" contribution shall be considered to be one evincing a level of dedication or achievement beyond that required or expected in the normal course of an individual's work. "Long-term" generally shall be considered to be at least 10 years. Nominees should be judges or duly licensed members of the bar in good standing. However, a non-lawyer who otherwise qualifies for the award may be considered for the award in exceptional circumstances. (Nominations of individuals posthumously cannot be considered.)