Anthony Kennedy, who retired last year after 31 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, is the 2020 winner of the Truman Good Neighbor Award.
For the first time in 68 years, there will be no luncheon to honor the winner or celebrate the memory of President Truman, due to the coronavirus. The Truman Good Neighbor Foundation is making the announcement today.
Kennedy, a California native who graduated from the Harvard Law School, was named to the court in 1987 by President Reagan. For much of his time on the court, his vote was crucial in deciding close cases. The award is given to someone who reflects Truman’s spirit of public service.
Although the Good Neighbor Award dates to 1973, the story goes back further. After Truman left office, friends organized a large luncheon in his honor. It’s been held every year on or near his May 8 birthday in the grand ballroom of the Muehlebach Tower in downtown Kansas City. Truman did not embrace the idea of awards named after himself – there are several today – but in 1973, the year after he died, the Truman Good Neighbor Award Foundation adapted its luncheon and gave the first award to Former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Kennedy is the third Supreme Court justice to be given the award. Sandra Day O'Connor got the award in 2005. It’s been given to Presidents Ford and Clinton as well as several senators and congressmen, journalists and historians, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and others.