Much Ado About Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Speaking to a group of Southern Methodist University law studentsU.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that it’s unlikely that she would be confirmed if nominated today. She says the process has become much less bipartisan than it was when she was appointed by President Clinton in 1993 and that her work with the ACLU would probably disqualify her.

This is an unsettling idea because Justice Ginsburg is really fucking awesome. Also, it’s worth noting that Justice Ginsburg remains sharp as a tack at 78 and continues fighting for women’s rights just as passionately as ever.

As one of only 9 women in her class at Harvard Law, she and her classmates were asked by the dean “what it felt like to occupy places that could have gone to deserving men.” Despite not being taken seriously, the future Justice Ginsburg worked her way up to a position on Harvard’s law review. Upon transferring to Columbia after her husband received a job offer in New York, she graduated first in her class and became the first woman to be on two major law reviews. She clerked for U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri (after being turned down by Justice Felix Frankfurter for being a woman), taught at Rutgers University Law School (while hiding her pregnancy to avoid discrimination), and became the first woman to gain faculty tenure at Columbia.

She wasn’t just a trailblazer in her professional life; Ginsburg argued landmark cases that gave women unprecedented standing in the eyes of the law. She created the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU and won 5 out of the 6 cases she argued before the Supreme Court. In the first, Reed v. Reed, the Court unanimously ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendent applied to women. Next came Frontiero v. Richardson; the Court decided that military benefits for family members must be given regardless of gender. In Craig v. Boren, a case challenging Oklahoma’s sex-differentiated drinking age, Ginsburg finally convinced the Court that sex should be subject to heightened scrutiny.

As a Supreme Court Justice, she’s written countless opinions in favor of gender equality and civil rights. Revolutionary yet reserved, Justice Ginsburg has been instrumental in overturning discriminatory laws and opening doors for women. If that’s the kind of work that keeps you off the supreme court, I think we’re ready for a political 180.


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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

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17 Comments

  1. I love RBG, it’s amazing to see what she’s done. It’s a sad indictment of our current climate that having worked at the ACLU would likely disqualify her from being confirmed to the Supreme Court now.

  2. Yah, she is hot in that pic with the hoops and the t-shirt. She looks great in the outfit with the matching pumps too! And, no, I’m not just objectifying her. She’s a brilliant mind, a strong person and an inspiration, but she looks great too.

    I’m a student of history and I feel that the current backlash against all we (People of Color, queers, women, the disabled) have achieved and gained in the last 40 years is so vitriolic and hysterical exactly because we have achieved so very much in that period.

    Search Life magazine or Time for issues from the late 60s and early 70s, and see how much we’ve achieved. (Look at issues from the 50s if you can stomach it.) It’s amazing. And it’s a testament to the sacrifices and strife that activists went through to fight every single battle and stay staunch in their opposition to the unjust and frequently violent status quo.

    I read the following comment here and there, across the internet and in print: “Dick Nixon couldn’t get elected as a Democrat in this political climate.” And it’s true. We’re so far right in this country, the left could be taken for any number of nationalist movements from the 30s.) And, no, I am not talking about the Third Reich. There were many other, less extreme, movements in an era that shared swift technological and social change, fear and confusion with our own.)

    However, I think that as every pendulum swing has its equal and opposite movement, we shall make up the forces that drive the next movement back towards humanist values and justice. I’m not saying it won’t get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.

    And inspirational figures such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg will certainly serve as role models for us. In fact. there are many, many role models from the late 1800s, the 1920s through the 80s who fought the same fights were up against. We can do this!

  3. Looking at this and noticing how few comments it has…just saying, it doesn’t mean I didn’t read it or find it interesting (I never knew Ruth Bader Ginsburg was such a BAMF!), just that I have nothing intelligent to add, and I’m guessing most everybody that is just lurking is thinking the same. Please keep on educating me! Just because I don’t comment doesn’t mean I don’t love it.

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