Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

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.

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

QuotesEdit

 
Abortion prohibition by the State controls women and denies them full autonomy and full equality with men.
 
The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.
 
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.
 
State actors may not close entrance gates based on fixed notions concerning their roles and abilities of males and females.
 
Dissents speak to a future age.
 
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.
 
At the Supreme Court, those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know.

1970sEdit

1990sEdit

  • The seven to two judgment in Roe v. Wade declared “violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” a Texas criminal abortion statute that intolerably shackled a woman’s autonomy; the Texas law “except[ed] from criminality only a life-saving procedure on behalf of the [pregnant woman].” Suppose the Court had stopped there, rightly declaring unconstitutional the most extreme brand of law in the nation, and had not gone on, as the Court did in Roe, to fashion a regime blanketing the subject, a set of rules that displaced virtually every state law then in force. Would there have been the twenty-year controversy we have witnessed, reflected most recently in the Supreme Court’s splintered decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey? A less encompassing Roe, one that merely struck down the extreme Texas law and went no further on that day, I believe and will summarize why, might have served to reduce rather than to fuel controversy.
    • Lecture given in 2003 year at New York University School of Law in which Ginsburg critiqued the United States SUpreme Court for the structure of its decision in Roe v. Wade. As quoted in: Olivia Waxman (August 2, 2018): Ruth Bader Ginsburg Wishes This Case Had Legalized Abortion Instead of Roe v. Wade. In: Time Magazine. Archived from the original on May 27, 2022.
  • Abortion prohibition by the State, however, controls women and denies them full autonomy and full equality with men. That was the idea I tried to express in the lecture to which you referred.
    • When Sen. Hank Brown (R-CO) asked about her remarks during her 1993 Senate confirmation hearing about the above quoted lecture, Ginsburg clarified her stance with the quoted sentences. As quoted in: Olivia Waxman (August 2, 2018): Ruth Bader Ginsburg Wishes This Case Had Legalized Abortion Instead of Roe v. Wade. In: Time Magazine. Archived from the original on May 27, 2022.
  • It is essential to woman’s equality with man that she be the decisionmaker, that her choice be controlling. If you impose restraints that impede her choice, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex.
    • On Abortion. 1993 Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. As quoted in: Olivia Waxman (August 2, 2018): Ruth Bader Ginsburg Wishes This Case Had Legalized Abortion Instead of Roe v. Wade. In: Time Magazine. Archived from the original on May 27, 2022.

So all three strands were involved in Captain Struck’s case. The main emphasis was on her equality as a woman vis-à-vis a man who was equally responsible for the conception, and on her personal choice, which the Government said she could not have unless she gave up her career in the service. In that case, all three strands were involved: her equality right, her right to decide for herself whether she was going to bear the child, and her religious belief. So it was never an either/or matter, one rather than the other. It was always recognition that one thing that conspicuously distinguishes women from men is that only women become pregnant; and if you subject a woman to disadvantageous treatment on the basis of her pregnant status, which was what was happening to Captain Struck, you would be denying her equal treatment under the law

    • On the case Struck v. Secretary of Defense. 1993 Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. As quoted in: Olivia Waxman (August 2, 2018): Ruth Bader Ginsburg Wishes This Case Had Legalized Abortion Instead of Roe v. Wade. In: Time Magazine. Archived from the original on May 27, 2022.
  • The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.
    • 1993 Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. As quoted in: Olivia Waxman (August 2, 2018): Ruth Bader Ginsburg Wishes This Case Had Legalized Abortion Instead of Roe v. Wade. In: Time magazine. Archived from the original on May 27, 2022. As quoted in: Louise Melling (Deputy Legal Director and Director of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Center for Liberty, ACLU) (September 23, 2020): For Justice Ginsburg, Abortion Was About Equality. In: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Archived from the original on May 27, 2022.
  • 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.

2000sEdit

  • 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.
  • [L]egal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather, they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.
    • Dissenting, Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007). As quoted in: Louise Melling (Deputy Legal Director and Director of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Center for Liberty, ACLU) (September 23, 2020): For Justice Ginsburg, Abortion Was About Equality. In: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Archived from the original on May 27, 2022.
  • This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited.
    • Dissenting, Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007) in response to the Majority Opinion authored by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy who wrote (Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007), Part IV, section A): "While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. [...] It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form.". As quoted in: Louise Melling (Deputy Legal Director and Director of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Center for Liberty, ACLU) (September 23, 2020): For Justice Ginsburg, Abortion Was About Equality. In: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Archived from the original on May 27, 2022.
  • 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)

2010sEdit

  • 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.

2020sEdit

  • 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.


MisattributedEdit

Quotes about GinsburgEdit

  • 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?

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