CHICAGO—Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the Untied States will receive the American Bar Association Medal, the highest honor conferred by the association, Aug. 9 in San Francisco, during the 2010 ABA Annual Meeting.
“Justice Ginsburg has shown a steadfast commitment to preserving and advancing individual rights that is ever-more crucial in our modern world, where issues of security, technological advances, global business and personal relationships, and world governance issues all have the potential to impinge on personal liberties. Our nation’s founders carefully crafted a balance in establishing our system of governance. Throughout the history of our country, generations have been challenged to protect that balance. Justice Ginsburg is one of today’s champions of that balance, and of protecting our constitutional form of government. Justice Ginsburg has demonstrated her brilliance, keen legal analytical ability and elegance on the Court, contributing significantly to the development of our country's jurisprudence. The ABA is honored to recognize her immense contribution to the rule of law, both in the United States and on the world stage,” said ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm in announcing the selection.
Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1993, after having served 13 years as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before her appointment as a federal judge, she was a professor at Columbia University School of Law, and at the School of Law at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in Newark.
She also was general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, served on its national board, and was counsel to the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, coinciding with her teaching at Columbia. While active with the ACLU, she argued six cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, and submitted briefs in 18 more. Her ACLU work has been described as having “fundamentally altered the status of women in American society.”
Among her many other public service activities, she served on the Council of the American Law Institute, the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal, the Executive Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Ginsburg clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Edmund L. Palmieri in the Southern District of New York, immediately after receiving her law degree from Columbia Law School. She also attended Harvard Law School, and received a Bachelor of Arts at Cornell University. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi, and served on law review at both Harvard and Columbia. Among her many distinctions, she was awarded the Commander of the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration of the French government, in 2003. The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession presented her with the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award in 1993.
The medal, to be presented during the meeting of the ABA House of Delegates, is given to an individual judged by the association’s Board of Governors to have rendered exceptionally distinguished service to the cause of American jurisprudence. It was established in 1929, and only three other women have been recipients: Shirley M. Hufstedler, a former U.S. secretary of education and appellate court judge in both state and federal systems; Sandra Day O’Connor, former associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; and Patricia M. Wald, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and formerly a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.