Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former American Bar Association President William H. Neukom have been named recipients of the ABA Justice Center’s 2011 John Marshall Award in recognition of their exemplary lifelong commitment to improving the administration of justice.
As the U.S. Supreme Court’s first woman member, Justice O’Connor served from 1981 to 2006. Before this, she served in a range of state, county, and municipal judicial, legislative and legal positions.
During her time on the bench and since, Justice O’Connor has been a strong advocate for fair and impartial courts, state judicial selection reform, civic education in the nation’s schools and advancement of the rule of law in developing democracies across the globe.
Justice O’Connor’s participation with the ABA includes service on the Central Europe and Eurasian Law Initiative (now the Rule of Law Initiative), Commission on Civic Education and the Separation of Powers, Museum of Law, Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, and Commission on Fair and Impartial State Courts.
Neukom served as Microsoft’s lead lawyer for 25 years. As its chief legal officer, he headed the company’s legal, government affairs and philanthropic activities. Before and after his service at Microsoft, he was a partner at the international law firm K&L Gates’ Seattle office.
Neukom has been active for many years in bar association and community activities. He served as the ABA’s president from 2007 to 2008, secretary from 1983 to 1987, chair of the Young Lawyers Division from 1977 to 1978, and a member of the House of Delegates since 1979.
In 2006, Neukom founded the World Justice Project, a multinational, multidisciplinary initiative to strengthen the rule of law worldwide, a project he pursued throughout his year as ABA president. Now an independent 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, D.C., and Seattle, the project conducts research, develops a comprehensive rule-of-law index of countries throughout the world, and supports multidisciplinary on-the-ground projects to enhance and extend the rule of law in the United States and around the world.