Tributes are flowing for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court's second female justice, who died Friday. She leaves a long legal and cultural legacy with many considering her "the founding mother of gender equity. " (Sept. 19)
BARBARA PERRY: I think of her as the founding mother of gender equity. And I stress gender equity, not simply-- although that would have been important enough-- women's rights and women's equity. But the cases she brought as a lawyer to the US Supreme Court long before she became a judge were to have the laws treat men and women the same.
Just the loss to our country and the loss to the Supreme Court to have her towering presence, though she was, as someone said last night, no bigger than a hummingbird. But somehow she had this towering presence by the force of her intellect and her introverted personality. But her intellect overcame all, and then in the personal realm, she always reached out to people to help them.
Once again, in gender equity, I ran into a little boy-- I was giving a lecture on Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Ginsburg last January in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, and it was called Pioneers on the Supreme Court. And he must have been, maybe 11 or 12, and he came up to me, and he said, "I trick-or-treated last October as Justice Ginsburg." And then he sent a picture to me of him dressed in his robes with his lace collar. And I think she would have loved that as well.
She wrote a stinging dissent from the majority opinion in that case. She wanted the recount in Florida to continue.
Justice Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, which is always a sign that this is a strong dissent, and she encouraged the Congress to rewrite that part of the law. And by golly, led by a new senator at that time, Hillary Clinton from New York, the Congress rewrote that law and expanded that concept-- that time period that women would have to bring a case. And the very first law that Barack Obama signed into law at the White House with Lilly Ledbetter standing next to him was the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act.
Her intellect overcame all, and then in the personal realm, she always reached out to people to help them. So it's on her stationery, and it says, "Dear Barbara, [? even ?] when one is all grown up, the death of a parent is a loss like no other, but you have a store of memories to hold dear. May you continue to thrive in your work and life, just as your mother would have willed. With sympathy, RBG."