Prof. Bruce Ackerman Receives French Order of Merit
Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law School, received the Insignia of Commander of the French Order of Merit from the Republic of France at a ceremony at Yale Law School on March 1.
The award was presented by Madame Noelle Lenoir, France's Minister for European Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The French National Order of Merit rewards distinguished merit in a public post, civilian or military, or in the exercise of a private activity. The prestigious award was established by General de Gaulle in 1963, and is given at the discretion of the French President.
"I join my colleagues in extending to Bruce Ackerman my heartfelt congratulations on his receipt of the National Order of Merit," said Yale Law School Dean Anthony T. Kronman. "This is a high honor indeed and it pleases all of us to know that Bruce's original and inspiring work in the fields of legal and political theory has gained for itself the wide respect it deserves. Bruce is a citizen of the world and the National Order of Merit is a wonderful recognition of the cosmopolitan spirit of his work and the man behind it."
Ackerman was chosen for his preeminent scholarship in political science, history, and constitutional law. While the French government usually recognizes the work of academics with the awarding of the Palmes Acad?ques, the installation of the National Order of Merit signifies that the recipient's work has influence beyond the classroom setting. The rank of Commander is the highest of the three grades established by the Order.
In receiving his award, Professor Ackerman remarked: "As best I can tell, the trade in honor between Paris and New Haven began in 1785, when New Haven made the Marquis de Condorcet an Honorary Freeman of this fair city. Two years later, Condorcet reciprocated by publishing a series of ?Letters from a Freeman of New Haven to a Citizen of Virginia? that was circulated widely in the run-up to the Constitutional Convention. I've tried to follow in Condorcet's footsteps, and participate in the ongoing debate on Europe's proposed constitution, and I take special pleasure in reaffirming the deep bonds linking France and the United States. They were forged centuries ago. They will endure centuries into the future."
Ackerman received his B.A. from Harvard in 1964, and his LL.B. from Yale Law School in 1967. He taught at Yale from 1974 until 1982, and returned to the University in 1987, when he was awarded a Sterling Professorship, Yale's highest faculty chair. He has received many honors for his work in political and constitutional theory, including the Henry Phillips Prize in Jurisprudence for lifetime achievement from the American Philosophical Society. Professor Ackerman's most fundamental works are Social Justice in the Liberal State, an essay in political philosophy, and his multivolume We the People, a history of American constitutional development. Over the past few years, he has been writing a series of works which seek to define a practical progressive agenda for the twenty-first century. His book, The Stakeholder Society, has helped inspire an initiative by the British government that will provide a significant capital grant to each young Briton as he or she starts off in adult life. His most recent book, Deliberation Day, advocates a new national holiday, two weeks before presidential elections, during which citizens will discuss the leading issues raised by the competing candidates at neighborhood centers throughout the land.
The insignia of the Order is a star with six double branches, at the center of which is an image symbolizing the Republic of France surrounded by laurel leaves. The star is topped by a crown clasp of intertwining oak leaves. The original Order of Merit dates back to the eighteenth century, when it was founded by King Louis XV, originally as a military order. It disappeared during the French Revolution and was reestablished by Napoleon, who opened it to civilians. The award did not survive the fall of the French Empire, but was revived again by General de Gaulle in 1963.