Ruth Bader Ginsburg award axed after family voiced outrage about it going to Musk and Murdoch

‘When you think of trying to create a more just society, which of course was Mom’s ultimate goal, those are probably about the last names that would come to mind,’ the late Supreme Court justice’s son says

Amelia Neath
Wednesday 20 March 2024 15:39 GMT
RBG award axed after late justice’s family voiced outrage about it's recipients

The award ceremony for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award has been cancelled after family members of the late Supreme Court justice criticised the award for honouring SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Julie Opperman, the chairman of the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation that announced this year’s awardees, said in a statement that “the last thing we intended was to offend the family and friends of RBG.”

“Our purpose was only to remember her and to honor her leadership. And while we believe each of the honorees is worthy of our respect for their leadership and their notable contributions, the Foundation has decided that the planned ceremony in April 2024 will be canceled.”

The cancellation comes after the family members of Ginsburg, who served on the United States Supreme Court from 1993 until her death in 2020, slammed the award for announcing honourees such as Mr Musk and Mr Murdoch.

Jim Ginsburg, the son of the late justice and founder of a classical music label, told CNN that the award is a “desecration of my mother’s memory.”

“I don’t want to speak to what our other plans might be if the foundation doesn’t see the wisdom of desisting and ending this desecration of my mother’s memory, but I will say that we will continue to fight this,” Mr Ginsburg said.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a leader liberal on the Supreme Court, died in 2020 (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

For the first time, the award has included men in the list—in fact, it has included four men—but has only honoured one woman, TV personality and businesswoman Martha Stewart.

The Opperman Foundation announced last week that the RBG Leadership award would honour Mr Musk, Mr Murdoch, Ms Stewart, actor Sylvester Stallone, and philanthropist and financier Michael Milken.

The Ginsburg family also said in a statement that the awardees were an “affront to the memory of our mother.”

Rupert Murdoch has courted controversy for decades through his right-wing media outlets, most prominently Fox News and tabloids like the New York Post in the US. Elon Musk has embraced right-wing conspiracy theories, said that he plans to vote Republican at the next election and accused opponents of being in the grip of a “woke mind virus”.

Barbra Streisand and Queen Elizabeth II have been recipients of the award in the past. The award was first established in 2020, with the help of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to celebrate “women who have strived to make the world a better place for generations that follow their own,” The Guardian said.

Musk was announced as an honouree for for entrepreneurship and “stratospheric accomplishments” (Getty Images)

The late justice spent 27 years on the Supreme Court bench and was a pioneer for equal rights and civil liberties, as well as a trailblazer in a profession that was historically dominated by men.

When asked about the inclusion of men in the award, Mr Ginsburg said that that two in particular stand out: Mr Musk and Mr Murdoch.

“When you think of trying to create a more just society, which of course was Mom’s ultimate goal, those are probably about the last names that would come to mind,” he told CNN, adding that he thinks his mother would be “appalled” at the list of honourees.

Rupert Murdoch was also announced as an awardee (Getty Images)

He added that the award’s original purpose was to honour and recognise a woman who made a positive influence and said that his “family had had nothing to do with this.”

When the foundation announced they were honouring men this year, they said they were doing so because Ruth Bader Ginsburg “fought for not only women but for everyone.”

“I think these are people who pretty much stand against all the things that she stood for in terms of trying to … make the world a better place, for people striving for equality and for a more inclusive world where everybody is treated with respect,” the former justice’s son told CNN.

The Opperman Foundation said that it did not consider politics while choosing the honourees and that their purpose is only to do good.

After the foundation announced that the award ceremony would be cancelled, they said that they would “reconsider its mission and make a judgement on how or whether to proceed in the future.”

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