WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was honored on Friday night with The Williamsburg Award – Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s highest honor.
The award was conceived to recognize “a person who in the course of contemporary events had made an outstanding contribution to the historic struggle of men and women to live free and self-respecting in a just society,” according to archived documents housed in the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library.
Kennedy was presented with the award nearly 70 years after Sir Winston S. Churchill was honored with it. He is only the second person to receive the award.
“Justice Kennedy exemplifies the spirit of The Williamsburg Award, just as Sir Winston Churchill did in 1955 as the first and only other recipient of Colonial Williamsburg’s highest honor,” said Carly Fiorina, chairman of the Colonial Williamsburg Board of Trustees. “For his unwavering commitment to America’s founding ideals that were tested throughout his 43-year legal career, we honor him with The Williamsburg Award to express our appreciation for his work with the foundation and for his contribution to America’s judicial system to champion the cause of freedom.”
Kennedy was appointed to the highest court by Republican President Ronald Reagan and spent three decades on the court before retiring at age 81 in 2018.
He was often seen as a voice of moderation and provided the key vote on such closely divided issues as guns and voting rights in addition to same-sex marriage and the right to abortion.
Kennedy also served as a Colonial Williamsburg trustee for 20 years for which he also received Colonial Williamsburg’s prestigious Churchill Bell award.
For his unwavering support for Colonial Williamsburg’s educational mission, fellow trustees awarded Kennedy the Churchill Bell, which was established in 1992 to “recognize the institution’s most distinguished stewards and friends,” according to archived documents. Kennedy is the 13th recipient of the Churchill Bell, which was last awarded on Nov. 22, 2014, to former Colonial Williamsburg President and CEO Colin Campbell and his wife Nancy Campbell.
“Justice Anthony Kennedy served on The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Board of Trustees during a time of great change, both at the foundation and within society,” said Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “His steadfast commitment to civic education and its importance in a democratic republic has led to a renaissance that is reflective of Colonial Williamsburg’s founding mission, ‘That the future may learn from the past.’ We can’t thank Justice Kennedy enough for his dedicated service to our educational mission, and it is our honor to bestow upon him the Churchill Bell along with The Williamsburg Award.”
Kennedy retired from the board during their November 2021 meeting.