Sanctuary Honors Justice Ginsburg with 2002 Abely Award

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

  • Sanctuary for Families
The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, received the sixth annual Abely Award for Leading Women and Children to Safety at a reception sponsored by Davis Polk & Wardwell, Columbia Law School, and Sanctuary for Families' Center for Battered Women's Legal Services. The Honorable Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York, presented the award to Justice Ginsburg before a capacity crowd at the offices of Davis Polk & Wardwell.

"It is an awesome privilege to be able to honor Justice Ginsburg, who through her decades of work for women's rights paved the way for our work to stop gender-based violence," said Legal Center Director Dorchen A. Leidholdt.

In accepting the award, Justice Ginsburg invoked the vision of Justice Thurgood Marshall who praised the evolution, over two centuries, of the constitutional concept "We, the People" from one that was once confined to white, property-owning men and in time came to include Native Americans, immigrants, and women.

"I thought ultimately of the U.S.A's motto and grand ambition: E Pluribus Unum, of many, one. The challenge is to make or keep our communities places where we can understand, accommodate, even celebrate our differences, while pulling together for the common good," Ginsburg said. " 'Of many, one' is the main aspiration, I believe. Sanctuary for Families, through its efforts to repair the lives of women broken by tragic circumstances, contributes to achieving that high aspiration."

Nora von Stange, an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, was the second annual recipient of the Abely Pro Bono Achievement Award created to recognize the contributions of extraordinarily dedicated attorneys providing pro bono legal services to Sanctuary's Legal Center clients.

Leidholdt and Judge Kaye presented the awards at the September 26 event. David W. Leebron, Dean of Columbia Law School, introduced this year's Maryellen Abely Fellow, Alexander Karam, and offered closing remarks. The Fellowship is awarded annually to a Columbia Law School student who has demonstrated a commitment to working with victims of domestic violence and supports a summer internship at the Legal Center.

The Abely Awards were established to honor the memory of Maryellen Abely, an alumna of Columbia Law School, an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell, and a pro bono attorney at the Center who died in 1995 after a long fight with cancer. In remembering Maryellen, we celebrate the contributions of pro bono attorneys, law students, and legal assistants whose work enables Sanctuary to serve hundreds of additional domestic violence victims each year.