Oct 26, 2006
Press Release

Nashville - U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper has received the top award in an annual competition sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA). The ABA announced that Cooper won the 2006 Judge Edward R. Finch Law Day Speech Award. The award honors individuals for remarks at a Law Day observance that helps to build a broader understanding of key aspects of American law.

Cooper was awarded first prize for his speech that focused on the importance of the balance of powers: "Executive Overreaching v. Congressional Underperformance." Cooper's speech was first presented at the Nashville Bar Association's annual Law Day Luncheon on April 28th.

"We are very pleased that Congressman Cooper's speech was chosen as this year's ABA Judge Edward R. Finch Law Day Speech Award winner," said Sheree Wright, president of the Nashville Bar Association. "His speech was timely and thought provoking. Congressman Cooper's focus on how current events were tied to the ABA Law Day theme of separation of powers was insightful.

"It brought to light issues that many of us in our daily lives do not focus on," Wright added. "And we were especially honored to have a second winner from Nashville, after Jim Neal's third place award in the 2005 competition."

"After having served in Congress, off and on, for almost 24 years, I can testify that we are in grave danger of damaging beyond repair the constitutional structure that our Founders gave us," Cooper said in the winning speech.

"Despite my legislative background, I am an advocate for a strong executive because I believe the President, as the leader of the world's only superpower in the information age, needs the speed and agility which Congress simply cannot provide," Cooper wrote. "But I believe also that President George W. Bush has been far too aggressive in claiming the powers of other braches of government.

"But I urge you to hear also the main part of my message, which condemns congressional underperformance on a bipartisan basis," Cooper added. "I believe that White House overreaching would not be possible without congressional complicity and negligence."

The Judge Edward R. Finch Law Day Speech Awards were established by the ABA in 1968. Individuals from law, government, education and other fields nationwide participate in the ABA's annual Law Day by giving speeches around the country. In addition to Cooper's selection as the first prize winner in 2006, second place went to William P. Carlucci, immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and third place to California Superior Court Judge Alice Vilardi.

The complete text of Congressman Cooper's winning speech is available on his website at