Yesterday evening, at our Seventeenth Anniversary Picnic, we inducted our seventh Lynn Allen Award Honoree: Retired Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst.
Named for our late sister Lynn Allen, a founding boardmember of the Northwest Progressive Institute, these awards recognize people who have made indispensable contributions to progressive causes for a decade or more.
We lost Lynn to ovarian cancer in 2011, but her spirit has remained with us. (And so have her published works, preserved by NPI at Rebuilding Democracy.)
Lynn emphatically believed in the important work of organizing rural communities and acting on issues of concern to people living far away from our big cities and urban areas. She preached and practiced the politics of inclusion.
As communications director of the Institute for Washington’s Future, she traveled regularly to Washington’s rural counties and small towns, championing sustainable business and agricultural practices.
A skilled facilitator and gifted listener, Lynn understood the importance of and need for effective activism. Not a day goes by when we don’t miss her.
We established the Lynn Allen Awards as part of our continuing effort to ensure that Lynn’s good works will be remembered and her legacy appreciated.
Each year, we honor two outstanding individuals with a Lynn Allen Award.
In 2017, we presented the very first Lynn Allen Awards to Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence. In 2018, Major General Paul Eaton (Retired) and Alex Hendrickson became our third and fourth honorees. In 2019, Estela Ortega and Al Garman became our fifth and sixth honorees. Last night, the legendary Justice Mary Fairhurst become the seventh Lynn Allen Award recipient.
Mary’s award commendation is as follows:
An exceptional and widely respected jurist, Mary Fairhurst served the people as an Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court for seventeen years after working in the Attorney General’s office in many roles, including as division chief. While on the Court, she authored the majority opinion in Gregory that struck down the death penalty in Washington State, as well as the leading dissent in the Anderson case, which sought an affirmation that laws against marriage equality were incompatible with the Constitution. In another notable case, League of Education Voters, she helped protect Washington’s cherished tradition of majority rule in the Legislature. Her work ethic and stamina in the face of repeated cancer diagnoses demonstrate her professionalism and passion for justice.
This KING5 story by Drew Mikkelsen goes into more detail about Mary’s battle with cancer and is worth watching. Mary’s other honors include:
- American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Ninth Circuit
- Charles A. Goldmark Distinguished Service Award from the Legal Foundation of Washington Board of Trustees
- WSBA Award of Merit
- Steward of Justice Award from then-Attorney General Christine Gregoire
- The Council for Public Legal Education’s Flame of Democracy Award
- William Nevins Award for distinguished service in public legal education
Press play below to watch Mary’s acceptance speech.
Congratulations, Mary, and thank you for your tremendous service to the people of the State of Washington. Your contributions truly have been indispensable.