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Lion of the Law receives religious liberty's highest award Becket’s Gala to honor Leonard Leo for his work defending religious liberty globally

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Leonard Leo will be honored next week at Becket’s Canterbury Medal Gala in recognition of his efforts behind Judge Neil Gorsuch’s U.S. Supreme Court confirmation and his international religious freedom work with U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Becket’s highest honor, the Canterbury Medal recognizes an individual who has demonstrated courage and commitment in the defense of religious liberty in America and around the world (watch video here).

“Leonard is driven by a profound belief that freedom of religion, conscience and belief is a bedrock right. That all the other precious liberties that we value and cherish to some degree flow from a protection of this very basic right. This belief animates everything he does,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, and former Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

In 2007, Leo was appointed by President George W. Bush to the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He served as chairman for three years, traveling to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Sudan and Vietnam to assess country conditions on religious freedom. Leo is the executive vice president of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. While on leave from the Federalist Society in 2005, 2006, and 2017, Leo organized efforts in support of the U.S. Supreme Court confirmations of Justices Roberts, Alito, and Gorsuch. He has been a U.S. Delegate to the UN Council and UN Commission on Human Rights as well as the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe and World Health Assembly of the WHO.

“Leonard Leo has accomplished valuable work in our courts and around the globe that continues to strengthen the landscape of religious liberty. His extraordinary dedication to freedom and the law has rightfully earned him this year’s Canterbury Medal,” said Bill Mumma, president of Becket.

Leo is active in many Catholic charitable organizations, serving as a founding board member of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and sits on the Board of Directors at the Catholic Information Center, and the Board of Trustees at the Catholic University of America. He is a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The Canterbury Medal draws its name from one of history’s most dramatic religious liberty stand-offs, between Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket, the law firm’s namesake, and King Henry II of England. Becket’s annual Canterbury Gala is a black-tie event held at the Pierre Hotel in New York and is attended by the world’s most distinguished faith leaders and defenders of religious freedom. Past medalists include the late Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Cuban poet and former political prisoner Armando Valladares, Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., New York Times bestselling author and radio host Eric Metaxas, Learned Hand Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at or 202-349-7224. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish

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Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more).