Photo provided - U.S. Rep. Fred Upton was honored last week with the St. Joseph County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award in a ceremony at St. Joseph County District Court. Pictured from left to right are District Court Judge Jeff Middleton, Upton, and St. Joseph County Bar Association President Jordan Yancey.

Upton honored with Liberty Bell award from Bar Association

CENTREVILLE — St. Joseph County’s United States representative was honored last week with a special award from the St. Joseph County Bar Association.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan’s 6th District representative in Congress, received the 2022 Liberty Bell Award during a ceremony in St. Joseph County Circuit Court Wednesday, May 25.

The award has been given annually since 1985 to a non-lawyer, individual or organization within the St. Joseph County community, who helps promote a better understanding of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, encourages a greater respect for the law and courts, and fosters a better understanding and appreciation for the rule of law.

Upton has been the county’s representative in Congress since 1987, starting with the 4th District and moving to the 6th District during redistricting, and has been re-elected 14 times. He is a lifetime resident of southwest Michigan, residing in St. Joseph, and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1975. Upton announced recently he would retire from Congress at the end of 2022, and would not seek re-election.

Bar Association President Jordan Yancey discussed a number of Upton’s accomplishments as U.S. representative during her speech. She said Upton has been the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he is the top Republican on the committee, and also mentioned his ranking on the House’s Problem Solvers Caucus. She called Upton the “Dean of Michigan’s Congressional Delegation” due to how long he has served.

One of the big accomplishments highlighted was Upton’s effort in 2014, along with Rep. Diana Degette of Colorado, to launch the 21st Century Cures initiative. The bipartisan initiative aims to bring researchers, industry, and patients together to speed up the discovery, development, and delivery of life saving cures. Recently, Yancey said Upton and Degette have continued their effort with the “Cures 2.0” legislation to continue to find treatments for many diseases, from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

During his tenure, Yancey said, Upton has been “accessible” to his constituents, noting he has made “hundreds” of trips to St. Joseph County over the years, with “thousands” of appearances throughout the district overall. Upton, she said, has also made an effort to contact students, at one time visiting at least one school in the district on a weekly basis.

Upton said his priorities for the current time “remain the same” from when he was first elected: job creation, economic growth, and working to help all the residents of Southwest Michigan to live longer, better lives.

Upton was nominated by the members of the St. Joseph County Bar Association for the award, for his professionalism, and dedication to the citizens of St. Joseph County in his district. A reception celebrating Upton’s award followed the ceremony.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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