Thursday, February 5, 2009

Justice Ginsberg hospitalized

Press is reporting that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer. This makes me terribly sad, and my heart goes out to her for a full and fast recovery.

I had the chance to see Justice Ginsburg speak last fall at Harvard Law School’s Celebration 55: The Women's Leadership Summit, marking the 55th anniversary of women’s enrollment at the law school.

She was incredibly inspiring to hear speak. I was so impressed with her acute sense of where she fits in history. She contextualized her comments with a history review of the first female admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court bar, Belva Lockwood. Facing multitudes of barriers in her own professional career, Justice Ginsberg understood that change is made slowly yet boldly.

A nice summary of her talk can be found here and the full webcast of the discussion is here.

Justice Ginsberg also showed an amazing awareness of the political role of the courts. She spoke about her decision to read from the bench her dissent in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. case.
“If you think the court has not just gone wrong, if you think it’s gone wrong egregiously so, that’s when you read your opinion from the bench. And it may be that you have another forum in mind…I had a particular audience. It was Congress. And it was saying, in effect, ‘Congress you could not have meant what this Court thinks you meant, so fix it,’” she said.
I’m so glad that Congress chose to listen to Justice Ginsberg and passed The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it President Obama’s first piece of legislation to sign. She is one of the many unsung heroes that made that legislation possible.

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