Dear Commons Community,
The Berggruen Prize Jury yesterday announced its selection of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States as the winner of the 2019 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture. The $1 million award is given annually to thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world. Justice Ginsburg will direct the monetary prize to charitable or non-profit organizations that she designates. Justice Ginsburg was selected from more than 500 nominees and a shortlist of five, which included some of the world’s most renowned thinkers from various fields including social science, global justice, animal rights, and bioethics. Since its inception in 2016, the Berggruen Prize has been awarded to four outstanding thinkers, three of them women. As reported by The New York Times:
“Few in our era have done more to bring vital philosophical ideas to fruition in practical affairs than Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, chairman of the prize committee and a professor at New York University, said in a news release. “She has been both a visionary and a strategic leader in securing equality, fairness, and the rule of law not only in the realm of theory, but in social institutions and the lives of individuals.”
The prize comes amid increased public recognition for Justice Ginsburg, a stalwart liberal voice on the court who underwent treatment for a tumor on her pancreas in August.
She was the subject of two movies released last year: the biopic “On the Basis of Sex,” which focused on her early years as a pioneering sex-discrimination litigator at the American Civil Liberties Union, and the more irreverent documentary “RBG,” which included footage of a petite, steely-eyed Justice Ginsburg lifting hand-weights while wearing a sweatshirt reading “Super Diva!”
In the prize announcement, jurors paid tribute to her jurisprudence and the power of her personal story.
“By grit and determination, brains, courage, compassion and a fiery commitment to justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg rose from unadorned beginnings to become one of the most respected, and most beloved, jurists of our time,” Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, said. “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.”
The prize is awarded by the Berggruen Institute, a research organization in Los Angeles dedicated to improving governance and cross-cultural understanding. The three previous winners are the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, the British philosopher Onora O’Neill and the American philosopher and classicist Martha Nussbaum. Justice Ginsburg, who prize officials said was not available for comment, will accept the award in December at a private event in New York.”
Congratulations to Justice Ginsburg!