Last night, many of us were discussing the terrible loss of one of the greatest icons in American law: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In the coming days, there will be much debated about the timing and the merits of any replacement on the Court. However, the trauma of this moment for millions is the fact that we know that there really is no replacement for this inspirational and brilliant jurist. My column on Ginsburg will be posted this morning in The Hill newspaper.
For my students (liberal and conservative alike), there are few better models in life than Ginsburg whose strength and quiet resolve helped shape the law and the country for decades. On a Court where many justices evolved and found a voice, Ginsburg came to the Court with a powerful and clear voice. While selected as a presumed moderate, she was unabashedly liberal in her interpretation of the Constitution and remarkably consistent in her votes. She was the rock on the left of the Court to which countless opinions were tethered.
Ginsburg was one of the smartest justices to ever sit on the Court. From the minute she walked into law school, her intellectual skills were overwhelming. She tied for first in her class at Columbia and had the distinction of serving on both the Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review. She was the gold standard for a nominee to the Supreme Court.
I had the honor of speaking with Ginsburg on many occasions over the years from conferences to private dinners. She always displayed that same wry and penetrating humor. She could deliver a haymaker in a whisper. Some disagreed with her jurisprudence but we should all be able to celebrate her brilliance and her life. She faced open discrimination as a woman in our profession despite her stellar credentials. She refused to be deterred or discouraged by such ignorance. She stood her ground and, when she did, this diminutive figure with her signature lace gloves became a giant in the law. She was a force to be reckoned with and she left a country changed as a result of that unbending resolve.
Rest in peace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.