R.B.G. Award Organizer Cancels Ceremony After Fallout Over Honorees

The organizer behind an honor named for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a lifelong champion of women’s rights and liberal causes, is canceling the award ceremony scheduled for April after facing blistering criticism from her family and friends over several of this year’s planned recipients.

Justice Ginsburg helped establish the award in 2019, the year before she died. It was originally intended for “women who exemplify human qualities of empathy and humility,” but four of the five intended recipients this year are men. Among them are Elon Musk, the tech entrepreneur who frequently lobs tirades at perceived critics; Rupert Murdoch, the tycoon whose empire helped give rise to conservative news media; and Michael R. Milken, the financier who was a face of corporate greed in the 1980s and served nearly two years in prison before becoming a philanthropist.

“The last thing we intended was to offend the family and friends of R.B.G.,” Julie Opperman, the chairwoman of Dwight D. Opperman Foundation, which awards the prize every year, said in a statement on Monday. She added: “The foundation is not interested in creating controversy. It is not interested in generating a debate about whether particular honorees are worthy or not.”

Ms. Opperman explained that the reason for including men as recipients this year was to reflect and uphold Justice Ginsburg’s “teachings regarding equality.” The foundation “did not consider politics” but focused on selecting leaders who “have made significant contributions to society,” she said.

Before the foundation released the statement, the children of Justice Ginsburg had demanded that their mother’s name be removed from the prize, which until this year was called the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Woman of Leadership Award.

Her daughter, Jane C. Ginsburg, a law professor at Columbia, said the choice of winners this year was “an affront” to the values the justice stood for.

Back to top button