Ruth Bader Ginsburg warns students: ‘Our system is being polluted by money’
US supreme court justice speaks to Georgetown Law class and says 2010 decision on campaign finance would be the one case she’d pick to undo
If Ruth Bader Ginsburg could overturn any of the decisions made by America’s highest court in the past 10 years, it would be the sweeping 2010 decision that expanded corporate personhood.
While answering questions at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, the supreme court justice said that if she had to pick one case to undo, it would be the Citizens United decision. “I think our system is being polluted by money,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg said she is optimistic that “sensible restrictions” on campaign financing will one day be in place, quoting her late husband Martin Ginsburg to explain why: “The true symbol of the United States is not the eagle, it’s the pendulum – when it swings too far in one direction, it will swing back.”
Georgetown Law dean William Treanor moderated the conversation, organized for the school’s graduating class.
Ginsburg’s long fight for gender equality may have led some to believe she would pick the Hobby Lobby ruling, which allows corporations to be exempt from providing healthcare that covers women’s reproductive services on religious grounds.
But she said the many recent and aggressive attempts to restrict women’s access to health services could be stopped.
“I think it will depend on women of your age, if you care about this,” Ginsburg said. “There will never be a time when women of means lack choice.”
The Brooklyn-born judge was appointed to the supreme court by Bill Clinton and took her seat in August 1993 .
She spoke about how she was passed over for law professor jobs at Harvard and Columbia, where she went to school, but instead was offered a recently vacated teaching position at Rutgers, in New Jersey. The position had been held by a black professor, which is why Ginsburg believes she was able to get a job at the school, where she worked from 1963 to 1972. “Rutgers tried to replace him with another African American man, but having failed in that quest, the next best thing was hiring a woman,” said Ginsburg.
Some are hoping that Ginsburg, 81, will resign before Obama’s term ends – fearing that a Republican will be president when Ginsburg dies. Her early resignation could ensure that the appointed-for-life position is filled by someone with a similarly progressive record. In classic Ginsburg fashion, however, she attacked those suggestions in a September 2014 Elle interview .
Throughout the conversation, Ginsburg reiterated comments that there will be enough women on the court when all nine justices are women. “There are some people who are taken aback, until they remember for most of our history, there were nine men,” Gindburg said.
People sitting in the front row wore T-shirts emblazoned with the notorious RBG meme. . Ginsburg said her clerks had had to explain that it came from the rapper the Notorious BIG. “I no longer have any competition because the Notorious BIG is no longer part of this world,” said Ginsburg.
The person who developed the Notorious RGB meme, Shana Knizhhik and MSNBC’s Irin Carmon announced last month that they are co-authoring an “unobjective” biography on Ginsburg for HarperCollins’ pop culture imprint Dey Street Books. Meanwhile, two Georgetown professors are at work on her authorized biography.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015