The National Constitute Center has selected U.S. Sen. John McCain to receive its annual Liberty Medal.
The award will be presented in the fall by former Vice President Joe Biden, named chairman of the center in Philadelphia last year. It will be the first time Biden has participated in the Liberty Medal ceremony.
Center CEO Jeffrey Rosen said the relationship between Biden and McCain is particularly poignant. He described it as a “Madisonian collaboration,” in reference to the famously close partnership between James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
“The longstanding friendship between Joe Biden and John McCain, fostered through decades in the Senate together, is one of the beautiful bipartisan collaborations of American democracy,” said Rosen.
The Liberty Medal is presented to those who embody the spirit of American democracy, regardless of citizenship. Past recipients include the Dalai Lama, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
In its 29-year history, it is rare for the medal to be given to an American politician while still in office. It had never happened before last year, when U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat, was given the medal.
Right now, McCain is a significant figure in determining the direction of the Republican Party. He has openly sparred with President Donald Trump.
“Sen. McCain is at the center of the debates that will define America, but the Liberty Award is recognizing him for his career of service to liberty, in the military and Senate,” said Rosen. “We won’t be focusing on political issues, but on constitutional achievements he has embodied by championing freedom on a bipartisan basis.”
The award ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 16.