Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.

Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (March 15, 1933September 18, 2020) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She was the second female justice (after Sandra Day O'Connor) and was one of three female justices serving on the Supreme Court (along with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan). She was generally viewed as belonging to the liberal wing of the Court. Before becoming a judge, Ginsburg spent a considerable portion of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of women's rights as a constitutional principle. She advocated as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsel in the 1970s. She was a professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Columbia Law School. Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020.

Quotes[edit]

Neither federal nor state government acts compatibly with equal protection when a law or official policy denies to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature — equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities.

1970s[edit]

1990s[edit]

State actors may not close entrance gates based on fixed notions concerning their roles and abilities of males and females.
  • Defenders of sex-based government action must demonstrate an exceedingly persuasive justification for that action to make that demonstration. The defender of a gender line must show at least that the talents classification served important governmental objective and that any discriminatory mean employed is substantively related to the achievement of those objectives. The heightened review standard applicable to sex-based classification does not make a proscribed classification but it does mark as presumptively invalid incompatible with equal protection a law or official policy that denies to women simply because they are women equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in, and contribute to society based upon what they can do. Under this exacting standard reliance on overbroad generalization typically male or typically female tendency estimates about the way most women or most men are will not suffice to deny opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description. As this Court said in Mississippi University for women against Hogan some 14 years ago state actors may not close entrance gates based on fixed notions concerning their roles and abilities of males and females.
  • Neither federal nor state government acts compatibly with equal protection when a law or official policy denies to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature — equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities.
  • To summarize the Court's current directions for cases of official classification based on gender: Focusing on the differential treatment or denial of opportunity for which relief is sought, the reviewing court must determine whether the proffered justification is "exceedingly persuasive." The burden of justification is demanding and it rests entirely on the State. [...] The justification must be genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation. And it must not rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females. [...] As earlier stated, see supra, at 541-542, generalizations about "the way women are," estimates of what is appropriate for most women, no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description.

2000s[edit]

Dissents speak to a future age.
  • In sum, the Court's conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court's own judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not decide the Presidency of the United States. I dissent.
  • Dissents speak to a future age. It's not simply to say, "My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way." But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that's the dissenter's hope: that they are writing not for today but for tomorrow.
  • Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.
    • Interview, The New York Times Magazine (7 July 2009)

2010s[edit]

Nine, nine... There have been nine men there for a long, long time, right? So why not nine women?
Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.
The arc of the moral universe is long, … but it bends toward justice, if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.
My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.
  • Nine, nine... There have been nine men there for a long, long time, right? So why not nine women?
  • Undocumented aliens unfortunately are not protected by the law and they are tremendously subjected to exploitation. The result is that they would be willing to work for a wage that no person who is welcome in our shores would, would take. I think the answer to that problem is in Congress' lap. People who have been hardworking, tax paying, those people ought to be given an opportunity to be on a track that leads towards citizenship and if that happened, then they wouldn't be prey to the employers who say "we want you because we know that you work for a salary we could not lawfully pay anyone else."
  • Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.
  • It's a facet of the gay rights movement that people don't think about enough. Why suddenly marriage equality? Because it wasn't until 1981 that the court struck down Louisiana's "head and master rule," that the husband was head and master of the house.
  • If the Senate is not acting, what can be done about it? Even if you could conceive of a testing lawsuit, what would the response be? 'Well, you want us to vote, so we'll vote no.' I do think cooler heads will prevail, I hope sooner rather than later. The president is elected for four years not three years, so the power he has in year three continues into year four. Maybe members of the Senate will wake up and appreciate that that's how it should be.

2020s[edit]

At the Supreme Court, those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know.
  • At the Supreme Court, those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know.
    • Gerstein, Josh; Ward, Alexander (May 2, 2022). "Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows". Politico. Archived from the original on May 4, 2022. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
    • Full quote in context: The Supreme Court remains one of Washington’s most secretive institutions, priding itself on protecting the confidentiality of its internal deliberations.“At the Supreme Court, those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know,” Ginsburg was fond of saying.


Misattributed[edit]

Quotes about Ginsburg[edit]

  • I think performing Oscar the first time in Santa Fe is really what prompted me to look into proposing to my husband Scott, because it just seemed right. You know, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a huge advocate for Oscar and talked about in interviews. She came to the performances in Santa Fe and we were able to meet her and take photos with her. So it all just made sense: I think Prop 8 failed at that time, states started to make marriage legal, and it just all seemed right. So, yeah, we got married between the two runs of Oscar, and fortunately, Justice Ginsburg married us in D.C., which was such an honor. I still look back to that day and can’t really believe it! I asked her, and she said if I could come to Washington, D.C., she would be happy to do it.
  • Well, there are all kind of hearts. There are bleeding hearts and there are hard hearts. And if I wanted to judge Justice Ginsburg on her heart, I might take a hard-hearted view of her and say she’s a bleeding heart. She represents the ACLU. She wants the age of consent to be 12. She believes there’s a constitutional right to prostitution. What kind of heart is that?

External links[edit]

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