Kennedy Honored as ‘Advocate for All’

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When Justice Anthony M. Kennedy receives the ABA’s highest award on Monday, “it’s likely to mark the continuation, not the culmination, of his work as a catalyst in getting the organized bar to take the lead in promoting democracy and the rule of law,” the ABA Journal reports.

Kennedy has been keynote speaker for the opening assembly of the annual meeting three times, surprising the audience in August 2003 when he challenged the bar to do something about serious problems in sentencing and corrections.

“Our resources are misspent, our punishments too severe, and our sentences too long,” Kennedy said. His speech led the ABA to call for alternatives to incarceration and to endorse other reform proposals at the association’s midyear meeting last February.

Kennedy has also been a longtime advocate for the rule of law, helping launch the ABA’s Dialogue on Freedom program in which lawyers visit schools to talk with students about legal principles and values.

A press release says previous award winners include Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Felix Frankfurter, Thurgood Marshall, William J. Brennan Jr. and Sandra Day O’Connor.

ABA President Karen J. Mathis cited Kennedy’s work on sentencing reform and rule of law. “He deserves this honor most, however, because he singly represents the best of our profession,” she said. “He is a fighter for justice and an advocate for all–an example for every judge, every lawyer and every law professor, not just in America but all over the world.”

The ABA Journal will follow Mathis throughout the day, providing a blow-by-blow account of her activities. It will also provide coverage of other meeting highlights.

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