Casper awarded for service to American Law Institute

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It’s one thing to receive an award. It’s another to have it handed to you by a Supreme Court justice who also happens to be a friend.

Gerhard Casper, Stanford’s ninth president, was presented with the American Law Institute’s distinguished service award by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month during the organization’s annual meeting.

Ginsburg and Casper became friends three decades ago when they both served as directors of the American Bar Foundation. They remained close and worked together as members of ALI’s council.

Casper, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and expert on constitutional law, served 30 years on the council. His ideas led to the creation of the Young Scholars Medal and he recently served on the three-member search committee for ALI’s new director, Richard Revesz.

Ginsburg noted the award is reserved for those “who are contributors supreme to the well-being of the institute.” Referencing “The Winds of Freedom,” Casper’s latest book on the challenges he faced as Stanford’s president, Ginsburg called him a “prominent and uncommonly successful leader in the academic world.”

“What makes the American Law Institute so unique is that it provides a place for the intelligent, rational discussion of important issues without the polarization that characterizes so much of our legislative discourse,” Casper said.

While the occasion was formal, the exchange between Casper and Ginsburg could not have been more personal.

After a hug, Casper thanked his friend for presenting him with the award.

“Justice Ginsburg,” he began. “I have known her as Ruth for 30 years and she is still Ruth to me. And I love you, Ruth. I am moved to tears.”