Launched in 2016, the award honors thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world. Selected from more than five hundred nominees, the 86-year-old Ginsburg was honored for her work as a trailblazing legal scholar and powerful advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law. The $1 million cash award that comes with the prize will be directed to charities and nonprofits of Justice Ginsburg's choice.
Ginsburg began her career as a professor at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School, started the American Civil Liberties Union's Women's Rights Project in 1971, was general counsel at the ACLU from 1973 to 1980, and served for thirteen years as a federal appeals court judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 as the second female justice in American history, Ginsburg has authored a number of notable opinions, including United States v. Virginia, Olmstead v. L.C., and Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc., as well as high-profile dissents in cases such as Shelby County v. Holder and Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
Over her long career, Judge Ginsburg has received numerous awards, including the American Bar Association's ABA Medal, the Thurgood Marshall Award, the Genesis Prize Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award, and Jewish Culture in Sweden's Gilel Storch Award.
"By grit and determination, brains, courage, compassion, and a fiery commitment to justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg rose from modest beginnings to become one of the most respected, and most beloved, jurists of our time," said University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann, a Berggruen Prize juror. "She inspires women and men of all ages to realize that a democracy thrives to the extent that it provides every citizen equal footing to achieve their dreams. Justice Ginsburg has few peers in advancing the cause of human equality through the law."
"I am delighted the jury has chosen to honor such a prolific leader in the field of jurisprudence," said Berggruen Institute founder and chair Nicolas Berggruen. "Throughout her career, Ginsburg has used the law to advance ethical and philosophical principles of equality and human rights as basic tenets of the USA. Her contributions have shaped our way of life and way of thinking and have demonstrated to the world the importance of the rule of law in disabling discrimination."
(Photo credit: Supreme Court of the United States)