Judge Silberman wrote the excellent majority opinion in Parker v. D.C., the case that challenged the D.C. gun ban on Second Amendment grounds, and which was recaptioned (due to Dick Heller being the only plaintiff ruled to have standing) as D.C. v. Heller when the Supreme Court decided to hear the case.
From the White House website on the award:
Few men have played roles in as many memorable moments in recent American history as Laurence Silberman. He was a senior official in the Justice Department in the aftermath of Watergate, and helped to restore America's confidence in the Department. As Ambassador to Yugoslavia, he was a vigorous representative of America's values behind the Iron Curtain. He was a fierce advocate for the "peace through strength" policies that helped win the Cold War.Congrats to Judge Silberman, and thanks for his defense of the Constitution and the Second Amendment.
As a federal judge on the D.C. circuit -- often called the second-highest court in the land -- Judge Silberman has been a passionate defender of judicial restraint. He writes opinions that one colleague has described as always cutting to the heart of the matter -- sometimes to the jugular. (Laughter.) His questioning is crisp and incisive -- and at least one lawyer who was subjected to his inquiries actually fainted. (Laughter.) Judge Silberman was a particularly important influence on two other members of that court: Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. When each was nominated to the Supreme Court, Judge Silberman, in typical fashion, was not sad to see them go. That's because when Scalia left the court, Judge Silberman gained seniority. And when Thomas left the court, Judge Silberman gained his furniture. (Laughter.)
In a new and dangerous era for our country, Larry Silberman has continued to answer the call to service. He served with distinction on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. He took a year off from the federal bench to serve as co-chairman of a bipartisan commission on intelligence reform. And in all his work, he's remained a clear-eyed guardian of the Constitution. He continues to leave his distinctive mark in the opinions he issues, and the generations of bright and talented lawyers he has trained.
For his resolute service to the nation and his stalwart efforts to advance the cause of ordered liberty, I am proud to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Laurence H. Silberman. (Applause.)