The Duke Chronicle, the university’s student newspaper, covered the Bolch Prize ceremony and the visit of the award’s inaugural recipient, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (retired), to Duke’s campus. From the story by Stefanie Pousoulides:
During Kennedy’s time in Sacramento, he knew David F. Levi, director of the Bolch Judicial Institute. Levi — who is also the Levi family professor of law and judicial studies and former dean of Duke Law School — presented the award to Kennedy, remarking how it was a “rare privilege to have two Supreme Court justices [at Duke] at the same time.”
[Justice Samuel A.] Alito said that, at a time when some try to silence others, it is “vitally important in our system that both sides are heard.” He noted Kennedy’s particular keenness for “remaining open-minded and hearing both sides.”
“They could not have made a better decision for this the inaugural award,” Alito said. “I served with him for 13 years, and I cannot tell you how much I have learned from his example.”
Kennedy said that the first time he was explicitly asked to define the rule of law was when he was on a visit to China, at a time when it had not occurred to him “what it ought to be.”
Thus, Kennedy crafted a definition of the rule of law that has now been translated into many languages and was adopted by the Committee on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, which was a United Nations organization of which Kennedy was a member.
“His definition simply and elegantly explains that the rule of law ideal includes the concepts of freedom, equal treatment and individual dignity within a legal system that permits redress in which the law is superior to official will,” Levi said.