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Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law

Woman with short black hair with suitDr Menaka Guruswamy (1998, Law) has been named the 2023 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law with Arundhati Katju. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are the highest external honors bestowed by the University of Virginia, which grants no honorary degrees.

In 2018, Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju won a landmark case in Supreme Court of India, striking down section 377 the colonial-era law that criminalised consensual same-sex relations, they are spearheading a marriage equality case in India’s Supreme Court.

Dr Menaka Guruswamy is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India. Through her litigation practice, she has successfully sought reform of the bureaucracy in the country through fixed tenure and defended federal legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children. Dr Guruswamy is amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court in a case concerning 1528 alleged extra-judicial killings by security personnel. In her private law practice, she litigates in the areas of civil law, commercial law and white-collar crime.

She was on Foreign Policy magazine’s list 100 most influential Global Thinkers for 2019 and along with Arundhati Katju on TIME Magazine’s 2019 list of 100 most influential people. In 2017, her portrait was unveiled at Rhodes House at Oxford University, and she was named a Rhodes Trustee this year. Dr Guruswamy has also advised the United Nations Development Fund, New York and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), New York and UNICEF South Sudan on International Human Rights Law and has also supported the constitution-making process in Nepal.

Dr Guruswamy’s most recent publications include a co-edited volume of essays on Founding Moments in Constitutionalism and an essay on “Constitution-Making in South Asia” in the Handbook on Constitution-Making. She has written widely for publications including the New York Times and Hindustan Times, and she is currently a columnist at The Indian Express.

In addition to studying at Univ, Dr Guruswamy studied at Harvard Law School and the National Law School of India. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and a Gammon Fellow at Harvard. She has been visiting faculty at Yale Law School, New York University School of Law and University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She was the B.R Ambedkar Research Scholar and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School between 2017 and 2019, where she taught constitutional design in post-conflict democracies.

Published: 27 July 2023

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