On August 9, 2017, over 100 guests gathered at the Spanish Portuguese Synagogue to celebrate the distinguished lifetime achievements of two legal luminaries; Hon. Guido Calabresi, Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Hon. Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General of the United States and Partner at renowned international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton.
Attorneys, Judges, politicians, and friends and family of the honorees all had the opportunity to congratulate the honorees at the intimate dinner before the presentation of the Pursuit of Justice Awards at a ceremony in the main service room. Both honorees were humble, congenial, and happy to catch up with old friends and new. Classmates and students of Hon. Guido Calabresi recounted fond memories of their experiences with the legal scholar, and colleagues of Hon. Michael Mukasey shared anecdotes from his many years of public service in the limelight.
After dinner, attendees left their wine glasses at their dinner tables to file into the sanctuary for the Awards Presentation. This historic sanctuary, part of the oldest congregation in the United States, has hosted many a distinguished guest, and this night was no exception. Hon. Rudolph Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City, introduced his longtime colleague and close friend, Michael Mukasey, with levity and humor, while Judge Mukasey accepted the Pursuit of Justice Award with a more introspective tone, reflecting on our nation’s political and legal state and the importance of justice, fairness, and reaching across the political aisle for the greater good.
Robert Weinberg, past POJ recipient and former President of the AAJLJ, introduced his old friend and Yale Law School classmate Hon. Guido Calabresi with warm adulation, welcoming to the podium a man who has spent a lifetime of public service not in pursuit of money, fame, or prestige – but in pursuit of justice. Judge Calabresi regaled a hushed audience with heartfelt words recounting his family’s migration to the United States from Italy after WWII and some of the struggles and biases they endured in order to obtain their piece of the American dream. Hon. Guido Calabresi discussed how he hoped that his students would disagree with him, and that he encouraged heated discourse and discord in the pursuit of principle and truth. The audience was moved by this great figure who, as a dean and Professor at Yale Law School, had inspired generations of lawyers to pursue the sense of justice that he had helped to instill.
AAJLJ President Stephen Greenwald, Executive Vice President and MC of the night Michael Traison, former AAJLJ Presidents Nat Lewin and Bob Weinberg, among others who support the values that the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists espouses, enjoyed an enlightening evening of food, drink, and inspiration at the 2017 Pursuit of Justice Awards. “Justice, justice you shall pursue” – these words behind the Pursuit of Justice Award shall continue to inspire future generations of justice-seekers.