Joseph has served several terms on the FTRF board, including a number of terms as vice president. He currently is serving with Robert P. Doyle as co-chair of the FTRF 40th Anniversary Celebration Committee; the 40th anniversary will be celebrated in 2009 at ALA’s Annual Conference in Chicago.
In addition to his work in private practice with his firm, Joseph, Lichtenstein & Levinson, Joseph serves as counsel to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and special counsel to Playboy Enterprises. He is also an active member and former chair of the Media Coalition, a First Amendment trade organization of which FTRF is a member; a cooperating attorney with the ACLU; and a founder of Chicago’s Lawyers for the Creative Arts.
Joseph’s First Amendment work began in the 1960s when he was a volunteer attorney for the historic defense of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. In the intervening years, he has tried a number of landmark First Amendment cases, including ABA v. Hudnut and ABA v. Virginia, and was counsel for American Library Association v. Reno, the case that led to the overturning of portions of the Communications Decency Act in 1997.
FTRF Executive Director Judith Krug said:
It’s hard to imagine someone more deserving of the Roll of Honor Award than Burt Joseph. His dedication to the Freedom to Read Foundation is unparalleled, and his yeoman’s efforts on behalf of the First Amendment are historic. Librarians in particular are appreciative of Burt Joseph’s litigation successes, as they have helped ensure that we are able to practice our profession to its fullest extent. It is truly a pleasure to be able to recognize Burt and his legendary accomplishments in this way.
The award will be presented at the 2008 ALA Annual Conference during its Opening General Session from 5:30-7 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.
The Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor was established in 1987 to recognize and honor those individuals who have contributed substantially to FTRF through adherence to its principles and/or substantial monetary support.