Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a powerful and articulate voice for fairness and inclusion in America. Her long career which ended with her death on Friday deservedly holds a place of respect and honor in our nation’s history.
Although I do not agree with all of her positions and decision, I respected her commitment to breaking down barriers based on sexual or racial discrimination.
Justice Ginsberg was more than a Supreme Court Justice. She was an embodiment of the American Dream and an example of how far people can climb in America despite their humble beginnings. She was the daughter of an immigrant father and a first-generation American mother. She grew up in working-class Brooklyn. Yet, through her devotion to learning, she earned her way into Cornell University, then Harvard Law School, and finally Columbia Law School. She broke barriers as one of the few women to attend law school and upon graduation found more barriers confronting her when she was refused a clerkship because of her gender. Eventually, she began a career as a law professor at Rutgers University, while working for women’s rights. She argued over 300 gender discrimination cases and appeared before the Supreme Court in six of them, winning five.
Ironically one of Justice Ginsberg’s best friends on the Court was the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. They shared a deep like for each other despite their polar opposite political views — and a love of opera. The pair of influential jurists served together on the Court of Appeals and when Scalia went to the Supreme Court, he attended a testimonial to Ginsberg at which he said:” I have missed Ruth very much since leaving the court of appeals. She was the best of colleagues, as she is the best of friends. I wish her a hundred years.”
Judge Scalia’s son, Christopher, shared a story about the time his father bought two dozen roses for Ginsburg’s birthday. A fellow judge questioned why Antonin Scalia would make such a big purchase, asking “what good have all these roses done for you?”
“Name one five-four case of any significance where you got Justice Ginsburg’s vote.”
Justice Scalia responded: “Some things are more important than votes.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we all followed the example of Justices Ginsberg and Scalia and fought for our beliefs without losing sight of the fact that there are things that more important than our opinions?
Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce
NJ District 26