The World Jurist Association (WJA) awarded Anthony M. Kennedy, Senior Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, with its Medal of Honor. For two days, presidents of supreme and constitutional courts from around the world, as well as lawyers, guild, and religious leaders from different continents, gathered in Madrid at the headquarters of the World Law Foundation, as tribute to Justice Kennedy’s commitment to the Rule of Law and his outstanding and impeccable career in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Medal of Honor was picked up in person by his colleague from the US Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on behalf of Justice Kennedy. Via live videoconference, Kennedy, who participated in WJA congresses in China and New York in the past, expressed his «appreciation for this award, which should remind us all, that we need to pay tribute to the rule of law with renewed commitment and continue to pursue our careers. In other occasions that we have met, we have felt that hope that we can come away from the encounter with a new mandate to ensure civility within our profession, to try to make sure that those lessons aspire to respect the dignity and decency of all. That is what this medal is all about and that is what the oath of office is all about”.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on the other hand, emphasized that «it is a recognition of his entire career dedicated to strengthening and defending the rule of law and judicial independence as guarantors of peace, freedom and human dignity”.

Stephan Harbarth, President of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, pronounced the Laudatio to Anthony Kennedy: «Freedom of expression is one of his favorite subjects. He took every opportunity to see the world beyond its borders. In some of his rulings for the Supreme Court, Kennedy, even in the face of criticism, was carving out the values that we share with all civilizations. He has been able to demonstrate his pragmatism dedicated to people in the international arena, and the time he has invested in sharing with his colleagues in other countries his commitment and generosity is also very remarkable: he embodies the best characteristics and the constant respect for diverse points of view on which freedom of expression can develop and democracy can flourish. Thank you for serving as a model for jurists around the world”.

The event was inaugurated by the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, who thanked Anthony Kennedy for his «defense of freedom and his belief in justice during his career of more than 30 years in the Supreme Court of the United States». In addition, Martínez-Almeida recognized the «need to raise our voice, as the World Jurist Association does, for the Rule of Law as the key to our coexistence, and for that nothing better than to have references and people like Anthony Kennedy, who are the ones who guide us on this path, and who has made service through law the reason for his life. He inspires us in the fulfillment of our duty and our functions. He gives us the necessary strength to continue progressing”.

For his part, Javier Cremades, president of the World Jurist Association and the World Law Foundation, stressed that Anthony Kennedy «is a role model, not only for his achievements, but also for his mistakes”. He added that «Kennedy is a person of peace and freedom who found his purpose and during his life has dedicated himself to the rule of law: it is very moving the impact that the recognition has on a hero of the rule of law. All citizens help with the protection of the constitution, which is the only way to protect against the abuse of power and we want to be people of peace like him because without the participation of the community there is no rule of law».

Cándido Conde-Pumpido, President of the Constitutional Court of Spain, closed the ceremony by praising «the ongoing work of the World Jurist Association in promoting cooperative dialogue on world peace, the justice system and the rule of law”. Regarding the medal awarded to Kennedy, he expressed his congratulations for «recognition of his professional career in the international legal world».

Debates on the Rule of Law, Democracy, Judicial Independence and Moderate Practice of Religions

Four panel discussions were held during this two-day event: «Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law», «Freedom of Expression, Democracy and the Rule of Law», «The Rule of Law and Legal Certainty in Today’s Democracies», and “Religions for Peace: Advocating for Moderated & Free Practice”.

The presidents and justices of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts of Albania, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guatemala, Iraq, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, United States and Uruguay, participated in the panels of discussions, as well as Egils Levits, President of Latvia 2019-2023 and Judge of the EU Court of Justice 2004-2019. Furthermore, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Mohammad Al-Issa, the Chief Rabbi of Buenos Aires, Isaac Sacca, as well as other Catholic and Islamic religious leaders, discussed about the necessity for a moderated practice of religions and to use them as instruments for peace, not war.

Audience with H.M. the King

In the framework of this event, a delegation of the World Jurist Association met in audience with HM King Felipe VI of Spain at La Zarzuela Palace. King Felipe VI, jurist and a former awardee by the World Jurist Association, has been a frequent speaker at the World Law Congresses in the last five years.

«These 48 hours are a reason for hope owing the incredible legal talent gathered and the incredible talent that designs a better world. As well as for the message transmitted to all citizens and the need to continue working on the basis of coexistence, which is the rule of law». This is how the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, defined these two days that pay tribute to Anthony Kennedy’s outstanding career. Finally, the Mayor acknowledged that «we must never take democracy, the constitution or the rule of law for granted. Every day we must know that there are more enemies, and we must increase the effort that each one of us must make in our society. Not taking anything for granted is the shortest and most effective way to continue to maintain our confidence in the future as a society».

Image gallery

Cartel Tribute Anthony Kennedy

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El juez de la Corte Suprema estadounidense, Anthony M. Kennedy, recibe la Medalla de Honor de la WJA (Confilegal)

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Anthony Kennedy, reconocido por la World Jurist Association por su fortalecimiento y defensa del Estado de Derecho (Lawyer Press)

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