Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg | Daily News

Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R.B.G.) a Judge of Supreme Court in the United States is a unique personality. Reason to feature is we in Sri Lanka are now largely without the arguments and Judgements which set in motion precedents for social benefit seen before.

Born in 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended Harvard Law School, where she was one of nine women in a class of five hundred and the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. After transferring and graduating at the top of her class from Columbia Law School in 1959, she made a name for herself as a quiet yet stalwart courtroom advocate for gender equality. In 1972, she co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union women’s rights project and became the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School. Between 1973 and 1975, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, and won five of them. In 1980 President Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and in 1993 President Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court. She was the second woman to serve, joining Sandra Day O’Connor.

7 Essential Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Court Rulings

United States v. Virginia, 1996

When 1996 started, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) was the country’s last remaining all-male public undergraduate college or university. The United States filed a suit against the school, arguing that the gender-exclusive admissions policy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

The case reached the Supreme Court, where the state of Virginia argued not only that women weren’t properly suited for VMI’s rigorous training, but also that the state’s creation of a separate military programme at the women’s-only liberal arts school Mary Baldwin University was sufficiently equal. The court disagreed and struck down VMI’s all-male admissions policy, with Ginsburg writing the majority opinion that made it clear gender equality is a constitutional right.

Bush v. Gore, 2000

Some of Ginsburg’s most notable Supreme Court opinions were actually dissents, or disagreements from the majority decision — like in the case of Bush v. Gore, a story that remains a key moment in recent U.S. history. Many remember the recounts, the Florida electors, and the should-Gore-have-won debate as a hotly contested race in Florida came to determine the entire election. The case ended up at the Supreme Court after George W. Bush’s campaign filed an emergency application to stop a Florida Supreme Court mandate for a manual recount of the ballots in the 2000 presidential election against then-Vice President Al Gore.

The Supreme Court granted Bush’s application, and critics say the court’s decision to end the recount effectively gave Bush the victory in Florida and the national Electoral College.

At the time of the court case, Ginsburg wrote a dissenting opinion in which she disagreed with the court’s favouring of Bush. She famously wrote in her opinion, “I dissent.” The phrase was a somewhat harsh departure from the court’s decorum, which means dissenting justices usually use the term “respectfully.”

Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015

Just three years ago, this landmark case granted same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states.

She also struck a blow against John Bursch, the lawyer representing states who wished to uphold a same-sex marriage ban, as well as Justices Roberts and Kennedy, who wondered whether the Court could overturn marital tradition.

“Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female,” she told them, according to a report by The Guardian. “That ended as a result of this court’s decision in 1982 when Louisiana’s Head and Master Rule was struck down … Would that be a choice that state should [still] be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?” The court ruled 5-4 in favour of same-sex marriage.

Sessions v. Dimaya, 2018

According to Slate, the case was also the first time in her entire court career that she assigned a majority opinion as the most senior justice in the majority. It’s only the sixth time ever that a female justice has assigned the majority position. Ginsburg assigned the opinion to Justice Elena Kagan. According to the Court, the vagueness of the legislation struck down was in violation of the due process clause, making a strong case against legislative vagueness in future court cases.

Olmstead v. LC, 1999

This landmark case focused on the right people with mental disabilities have to live in their communities (known as the “integration mandate”), under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Supreme Court heard arguments on behalf of two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who were living with mental disabilities. Both were voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit of a state-run Georgia hospital, but were then held there in isolation in the years following their initial treatments — even after being medically cleared to move to a more community-based setting.

The court voted 6–3 in favour of the two women, ruling that Georgia had violated the “integration mandate.” Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion, in which she reinforced an important right afforded to individuals with disabilities, including mental illnesses. “We confront the question whether the proscription of discrimination may require placement of persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than institutions,” she wrote. “The answer, we hold, is a qualified yes.”

Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, 2007

Another one of RBG's famous dissents came in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, decided in 2007. Lilly Ledbetter sued her employer of 19 years, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, for gender discrimination, after she discovered the company had been paying her less than her male counterparts, which she alleged was because of her gender. Ledbetter argued the pay disparity was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but Goodyear countered that the same clause required discrimination complaints to be filed within 180 days of the violation (AKA the decision to pay her less money than the men) — so Ledbetter could only legally call into question the 180 days of unequal pay leading up to her official complaint, rather than the entirety of her nearly two-decade tenure with the company.

The Supreme Court abided by that rule, and voted 5–4 in favour of Goodyear. Ginsburg disagreed with that decision and wrote the dissenting opinion, pointing out the fact that Ledbetter couldn’t have filed her complaint sooner because she didn’t know she was being discriminated against. “The Court’s insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination,” she wrote. “Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetter’s case, in small increments; cause to suspect that discrimination is at work develops over time. Comparative pay information, moreover, is often hidden from the employee’s view.”

And Ginsburg didn’t just quietly file her dissent with a clerk, as The New Yorker reports, is often the case. Instead, she translated the official, rather technical document into a more widely understandable version, which she read publicly from the bench, making sure the gender wage gap got its due attention.

In that version, she noted that as Title VII stood at the time, “each and every pay decision Ledbetter did not properly challenge wiped the slate clean. Never mind the cumulative effect of a series of decisions that together set her pay well below that of every male area manager.” She pressed Congress to amend the clause, which they eventually did. When President Obama took office in 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill he signed.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 2016

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled on the biggest abortion case since Roe v. Wade. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt tackled Texas’s Omnibus Abortion Bill (known widely as H.B. 2), which imposed strict restrictions and requirements on abortion providers, including a mandate that doctors performing procedures have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and that clinics meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centres.

The justices struck down the restrictive bill in a 5–3 vote. Ginsburg was one of the five, and although she didn’t write the official majority opinion (that was done by Justice Stephen G. Breyer), she did share her own thoughts in a concurring opinion. In it, she made it clear that the court wouldn’t take kindly to further attacks on abortion providers.

“It is beyond rational belief that H.B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions,” she wrote. “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue great risk to their health and safety. So long as this Court adheres to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws like H.B. 2 that do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion, cannot survive judicial inspection.”

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