U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg accepted an award from the University of Chicago on Monday, speaking for over an hour on a wide range of topics.
The 86-year-old justice, who is battling cancer for the fourth time in her life, spoke at length without notes during the discussion-style ceremony, and the auditorium was packed with students and faculty eager to hear from her.
Ginsburg received the 2019 Harris Dean’s Award, an annual award given to “an exceptional leader for his or her lifetime contributions to public policy.”
An overflow room was also packed to capacity, and an off-campus viewing party was arranged.
Ginsburg spoke about the current political climate in the United States, and the Supreme Court’s nomination process.
“I don’t know what it would take, but we really should get back to the way it was when people were examining the qualifications of someone to be a judge, rather than guessing how they would rule on contentious cases,” she said.
The event was also packed with political luminaries, as former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule attended, as did former Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner.
Current Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not attend the event itself, but arrived after Ginsburg spoke to attend a post-event reception.
“The distinguished career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg serves as an inspiration for our students and for rising leaders around the world,” Harris School of Public Policy Dean Katherine Baicker said in a statement about the event, adding that Ginsburg's "leadership on the Court and her analytical approach to judicial decision-making exemplify the commitment and impact honored" by the award.
Last month, the Supreme Court revealed that Ginsburg had completed radiation therapy for a cancerous tumor on her pancreas, the fourth time the 86-year-old justice announced she had been treated for cancer over the last two decades. There was no evidence of the disease remaining following her latest treatment, the Court said.
Appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg is the oldest justice on the bench and widely regarded as the leader of the court's liberal wing.