In a surprising turn of events, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg award ceremony has been canceled after the late justice’s family expressed their disappointment over the majority of the “women in leadership prizes” being awarded to men, including Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch. The controversy has left many questioning the foundation’s decision-making process.

RBG’s Family Speaks Out Against Male-Dominated Award Recipients

The Washington, D.C., spring gala was set to celebrate Elon Musk, Rupert Murdoch, Michael Milken, Martha Stewart, and Sylvester Stallone for winning the award in RBG’s name. However, the invitation-only event was canceled after Ginsburg’s family denounced the award when it was given to Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch, among others, claiming it betrayed the justice’s legacy.

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The Opperman Foundation has been bestowing the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Leadership Award to extraordinary people since 2020, the same year that the Supreme Court justice passed away at the age of 87. The chairman of the Opperman Foundation said in a statement released on Monday that the group was pulling the plug to avoid fueling controversy over the 2024 recipient list.

Foundation Aims to Avoid Controversy, Cancels Award Ceremony

Julie Opperman, the chairman of the Opperman Foundation, stated, “Keeping in mind that our goal is only to do good, the foundation is not interested in creating controversy. It is not interested in generating a debate about whether particular honorees are worthy. The last thing we intended was to offend the family and friends of RBG.”

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Actor Sylvester Stallone, financier Michael Milken, and fashion icon Martha Stewart were named as award recipients this year along with Musk and Murdoch. Trevor Morris, a former clerk to Ginsburg, told Julia Opperman last week that the late justice’s family members wanted to remove her name from the award unless they return to their roots of choosing “an extraordinary woman” for each award.

Ginsburg’s Family Claims Award Strays from Original Mission

Morris’s letter called the list of honorees a “betrayal of the justice’s legacy,” saying “It is deeply worrisome that the Foundation has decided to apply the new criteria to honor people who exhibit none of the values that animated the Justice’s career.” The letter claimed that the organizers changed the parameters of the honors without consulting Ginsburg’s family.

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Ginsburg’s daughter, Columbia Law School professor Jane C. Ginsburg, forwarded the letter to the Opperman Foundation along with her statement. “This year, the Opperman Foundation has strayed far from the original mission of the award and from what Justice Ginsburg stood for,” Jane Ginsburg said. Neither Jane Ginsburg nor Morrison singled out any of the named honorees.

RBG’s Progressive Legacy Questioned in Light of Award Recipients

Ginsburg, the legendary late Supreme Court justice, consistently supported progressive positions during her 27 years on the bench. Her family lashed out at the foundation’s choices as “an affront to the memory of our mother and grandmother,” without singling out the two conservative billionaires. They stated, “Not everyone on this year’s slate reflects the values to which the Justice dedicated her career.”

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Ginsburg was friends with fellow lawyer Dwight Opperman and approved an award in her name before her death on September 18, 2020. The award originally recognized “an extraordinary woman who has exercised a positive and notable influence on society and served as an exemplary role model in both principles and practice.” However, the foundation changed the award this year to be open to men as well.

Foundation Defends Decision to Open Award to Men

“Justice Ginsburg fought not only for women but for everyone,” foundation chair Julie Opperman said when she announced the awards. “Going forward, to embrace the fullness of Justice Ginsburg’s legacy, we honor both women and men who have changed the world by doing what they do best.” The Opperman Foundation said it had no response to the criticism of its selections.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

The foundation described this year’s honorees as “path-breaking innovators to seasoned veterans across a broad range of professions and industries.” Stewart was on the “original wish list of potential honorees,” Musk was honored for his “stratospheric accomplishments,” and Murdoch was “the most iconic living legend in media.” Murdoch said in a statement recognizing his award drew comparisons between his work and Ginsburg’s values.

Murdoch Claims Award Reflects Ginsburg’s Values

Murdoch said in a statement, “This recognition not only reflects my journey in the media and publishing industry but also represents the relentless defense of civil liberties and a commitment to civil discourse that Justice Ginsburg embodied.” The statement has drawn criticism from those who believe Murdoch’s values do not align with Ginsburg’s progressive legacy.

Source: Flickr/Dan Farber

The controversy surrounding the Ruth Bader Ginsburg award has raised questions about the foundation’s decision-making process and its commitment to honoring the late justice’s legacy. Many believe that the foundation should have stuck to its original mission of recognizing extraordinary women who have made a positive impact on society, rather than expanding the award to include men.

Elon Musk’s Inclusion Sparks Debate Over Award Criteria

Elon Musk’s inclusion as a recipient of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award has also sparked debate, with some questioning whether his accomplishments align with the values that Ginsburg represented. While Musk has been recognized for his innovative work in the tech industry, his controversial statements and actions have drawn criticism from those who believe he does not embody Ginsburg’s commitment to social justice.

Source: Flickr/Daniel Oberhaus

The decision to include Musk as an award recipient has further fueled the controversy surrounding the foundation’s choices. Some have argued that while Musk’s accomplishments in the tech industry are significant, they do not necessarily reflect the values that Ginsburg dedicated her career to promoting, such as gender equality and civil rights.

Martha Stewart’s Inclusion Raises Eyebrows

The inclusion of Martha Stewart as an award recipient has also raised eyebrows, with some questioning whether her accomplishments align with the values that Ginsburg represented. While Stewart has been recognized for her successful career in the lifestyle and media industries, her past legal troubles have drawn criticism from those who believe she does not embody Ginsburg’s commitment to justice and integrity.

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However, others have argued that Stewart’s resilience and ability to rebuild her career after facing legal challenges demonstrate the kind of perseverance and determination that Ginsburg herself embodied. The debate over Stewart’s inclusion highlights the complex nature of the controversy surrounding the award and the differing opinions on what constitutes a worthy recipient.

Controversy Raises Questions About Award’s Future

The controversy surrounding the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award has raised questions about the future of the award and whether it will continue to be bestowed in the late justice’s name. Some have called for the foundation to return to its original mission of recognizing extraordinary women, while others have argued that the award should be discontinued altogether in light of the recent controversy.

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The foundation has not yet announced any decisions regarding the future of the award, but the controversy has undoubtedly put pressure on the organization to reevaluate its criteria and selection process. As the debate continues, many will be watching to see how the foundation responds and whether it can find a way to honor Ginsburg’s legacy in a way that is true to her values and principles.

A Legacy Tarnished or a Chance for Reflection?

The cancellation of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg award ceremony and the controversy surrounding the male-dominated recipient list has left many questioning whether the late justice’s legacy has been tarnished. However, others see the controversy as an opportunity for reflection and a chance to reevaluate what it means to truly honor Ginsburg’s memory and the values she stood for.

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As the nation continues to grapple with issues of gender equality, social justice, and civil rights, the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg remains as relevant as ever. While the controversy surrounding the award may have cast a shadow over her memory, it has also sparked important conversations about what it means to truly honor her life’s work and the principles she dedicated herself to defending.