Thursday, September 09, 2010

Ruth Bader Ginsburg shows how feminism is done ... Again

As if anyone needed another reason to admire Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dahlia Lithwick provides it in this excellent article.
Anyone who didn't already believe Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be fashioned of pure steel was reminded of the fact Friday night as she delivered a speech to a group of lawyers and judges that was meant to have been delivered by her husband. Martin Ginsburg had been invited to deliver his remarks at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' conference in Colorado Springs, Colo., but he died in late June of metastatic cancer. As Ginsburg explained Friday evening, "He had his speech all written out." And so she read it—with a handful of interpolations—in its entirety to several hundred rapt listeners.

The speech, "How the Tenth Circuit Got My Wife Her Good Job," described the only case the Ginsburgs ever worked on together—a 1972 tax case called Moritz v. Commissioner, challenging the denial of a dependent-care deduction allowed to women, widowers, or divorced men but denied to a single man who was caring for his ailing mother. According to Martin Ginsburg, as read by his widow, in the 1960s, while he worked as a New York tax lawyer, she toiled as a law professor at Rutgers. And when he entered her adjoining study in their apartment one night—"her room was bigger"—with a report on the Moritz case and the excited suggestion that she might represent the pro se litigant on appeal, his bride apparently retorted, "I don't read tax cases." She read it, and they took the case.
My favorite sentence in the article has to be where Lithwick says:

"Those who like to believe they have
picked themselves up by the bootstraps
sometimes forget that they wouldn't
even have boots were it not for the
women who came before."

When I first came to Washington, it was to work at the headquarters of the National Organization for Women. We would sometimes get calls from right-wing women, questioning our work. I would often say to them: "Most of the rights you take for grated today are due to the hard work of feminists -- like the one's in NOW -- who fought for them on your behalf. And while you may not appreciated it, you still benefit from their struggle."

Thank you Justice Ginsburg, for paving the way.

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