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Emmet Bondurant honored with prestigious American Bar Association Medal

The award recognizes Bondurant's significant contributions to civil rights, legal defense and democratic values

February 27, 2024

Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, an elite boutique litigation firm tackling high-stakes disputes for plaintiffs and defendants, proudly announces founding partner Emmet Bondurant has been awarded the American Bar Association Medal (ABA Medal). 

The ABA Medal is the highest honor given by the world’s leading legal association to an individual who has, “rendered conspicuous service in the cause of American jurisprudence.” 

Since 1929, the ABA Medal has recognized individuals whose remarkable achievements and contributions to society and the legal field have made a lasting and significant impact. Distinguished recipients of this prestigious award include Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O’Conner,  Fred D. Gray, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy. Of the 86 prior recipients, 11 are former Justices of the United States Supreme Court.

“Emmet has devoted more than sixty years to vigorously pursuing justice and defending his clients' interests with unmatched integrity and phenomenal success,” says Mike Terry, a partner at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore and a member of the ABA House of Delegates. “His career is distinguished by an unwavering dedication to client advocacy, community service and pro bono commitments. Emmet’s remarkable contributions to pivotal civil rights and constitutional matters, such as voting rights, legislative reapportionment, indigent defense reform and death penalty defense highlight his profound dedication to upholding democratic values and ensuring fair representation for all.”

At the age of 26, Bondurant made a significant mark by successfully arguing Wesberry v. Sanders before the United States Supreme Court, a groundbreaking case establishing the principle of equal population in congressional districts. Furthermore, his involvement in Toombs v. Fortson compelled the Georgia legislature to comply with the Equal Protection Clause by reapportioning state senate and house districts accordingly.

Beyond voting rights, Bondurant has championed fair representation and racial justice, notably opposing state voter-identification laws and partisan gerrymandering in Rucho v. Common Cause, while also advocating for systemic criminal justice system reforms, leading to the creation of a Georgia-wide indigent defense system with the Indigent Defense Act of 2003. 

Bondurant's commitment to justice extends to his pro bono work for Georgia's indigent citizens and Guantanamo detainees, reflecting his dedication to the underserved. Additionally, his landmark case, Hishon v. King & Spalding, highlighted his commitment to gender equality by achieving a unanimous Supreme Court ruling against discrimination in law firm partner selection.

His contributions have earned him widespread recognition from organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the ACLU of Georgia.

Bondurant will receive the ABA Medal on August 2 during the 2024 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. 

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