During a brief visit to Sweden, the renowned US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received a jubilee honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Law in a formal ceremony in Stockholm.
As the honoured guest did not have the opportunity to travel to Lund, the ceremony was held at the Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm. The ceremony was followed by a conversation about Justice Ginsburg’s career, including her time in Lund.
The Faculty of Law had invited a number of special guests to Tuesday’s ceremony, while 30 law students drew winning lots to attend the conferment of a jubilee honorary doctorate on Justice Ginsburg. The title is reserved for those who have been honorary doctors for 50 years.
Ginsburg conducted research and took part in a comparative project at Lund University in the early 1960s. She subsequently published the book “Civil Procedure in Sweden” together with judge Anders Bruzelius. In 1969, the Faculty of Law in Lund conferred honorary doctorates upon Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anders Bruzelius.
In 1993 Ginsburg was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the US Supreme Court. She is also known for having affected the course of history as an advocate for equal opportunities, gender equality and civil rights in the USA. In early 2019, a film about Ginsburg’s life, On the Basis of Sex, was released in Swedish cinemas, preceded by a documentary entitled simply RBG.
The degree conferment ceremony
The degree conferment ceremony began with a solemn fanfare of court trumpeters and a formal welcome to the Svea Court of Appeal by its President Anders Perklev. The Dean of the Faculty of Law Mia Rönnmar and the Chair of the University Board Jonas Hafström also gave a brief welcome speech. Mia Rönnmar emphasised that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a major role model for lawyers all over the world, admired for her courage, integrity, intellect and legal brilliance as well as her pioneering work for gender equality and human rights.
“We are particularly proud to have one of the pillars of the US judiciary as our friend and doctor at our Faculty”, said Hafström before leaving the floor to Professor emeritus Kjell-Åke Modéer.
Modéer welcomed Ruth Bader Ginsburg back to Sweden and held a personal presentation about and to the jubilee honorary doctor, looking back on her long career and her time in Lund.
The insignia were then handed over by the presenter, Professor Mats Tjernberg, according to the order of the ceremony in Latin. For jubilee honorary doctors, this entails the conferment of a new diploma. Ruth Bader Ginsburg accepted her new title and spoke about how honoured she felt. Justice Ginsburg also mentioned that no other honorary title had meant more to her than her honorary doctorate from Lund University in 1969, and that she has worn the ring she received on the occasion every day since.
Conversation with RBG
Once the ceremony ended, a conversation began between Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Postdoc Eleni Karageorgiou and Professor emeritus Kjell-Åke Modéer about civil rights, comparative law and Ginsburg’s time in Lund, including questions from students in the audience. Among other things, Justice Ginsburg explained that Sweden had been crucial in her work for gender equality in the US. Specifically, she recounted how she had participated in a Swedish trial in which the judge was not only a woman but also eight months pregnant, which would have been unthinkable in the US at the time.
“My thought processes were stimulated in Sweden. I saw what was wrong and what needed to change in the USA."
The degree conferment ceremony concluded with a reception where guests had the opportunity to meet and greet the jubilee honorary doctor. On Wednesday, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is already on her way back to Washington to continue her work as a US Supreme Court Justice.