Ruth Bader Ginsburg is kind of a Big Deal

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United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is so hot right now.  A few years back, she was named by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.  More recently, she’s made an appearance on Valentine’s Day cards, was the subject of a profile in the New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin (which was elaborated upon in a New Yorker podcast), and was discussed by my friend Ali Frick on her blog.  As RBG has mentioned she would like to emulate Justice Brandeis’ service on the bench until the age of 82, the nation should enjoy at least two more years of her liberal lady legalwork.

So what’s coming up for the near-octogenarian?  She could have a chance to cement her legacy as a champion for gender equality issues if she can convince a swing vote or two on the Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) that prohibits same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in U.S. v. Windsor.  Oral arguments are set for late March.

Although it’s not as if her legacy is in any doubt; after all, as a litigatrix she:

(1) Co-founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project,

(2) Authored the brief in Reed v. Reed (which resulted in the first time the Supreme Court recognized that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution applied to differential treatment based on sex), and

(3) Authored the brief in Craig v. Boren (establishing that differential government regulation based on sex must demonstrate that use of sex-based criteria is substantially related to the achievement of important governmental objectives, and rejecting, in her words, codification into law of the “familiar stereotype: the active boy, aggressive and assertive; the passive girl, docile and submissive”).

It would be a fitting bookend for her Supreme Court tenure if she got to write the opinion which took the gender-discrimination-ridden DOMA off the books. March 15 marks “Kiki’s” 80th birthday…happy birthday, Justice Ginsburg!

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Categories: Law, Policy, and Government, Letters from a Lawyer

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