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Justice Ginsburg Rights a Wrong

Imagine having to evacuate a plane using the emergency chutes and finding out that one of your fellow passengers was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  This happened earlier this week to 197 passengers bound for San Francisco from Dulles International Airport after the pilot noticed something was wrong with the engine.

Lady Justice rules. Photo by: bobosh t

“I am shaking.  I don’t yet know why.  People were screaming,” tweeted one traveler.

There were no reports of Ginsburg screaming.  Staying cool, calm, and collected under pressure is a trait all Supreme Court Justices should possess, especially one who is the second woman elevated to the nation’s highest court, the first being Sandra Day O’Connor.

With the court on break until October, the justice has been traveling.  A couple of weeks ago she attended the four-day Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference held at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California.

I was having dinner with a friend at the hotel’s BlueFire Grill when I noticed a large party near the maitre d’ waiting to be seated.   A tiny, older woman in the middle of the group looked very familiar. She was nicely dressed, slightly hunched over, her hair pulled back tight in a bun, and wearing oversized glasses.  Did I know her? I couldn’t quite place her.  And who were those big, burly guys in suits with the walkie-talkies and microphones jammed into their ears?

Oh, yes, the Secret Service.  And the woman was none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  It was thrilling.

Conference-attendees were also pleased to see Ginsburg.   “It says a lot about the justices personally that they come here,” noted one.

Justice Ginsburg’s role at the conference was to preside over a re-enactment of an 1872 case brought by Myra Bradwell against Illinois for twice denying her application to the state bar because of her gender in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Illinois Chief Justice, in explaining their decision, stated,  “God designed the sexes to occupy different spheres of action.”

The United States Supreme Court was no more unbiased.  It ruled that the right to practice a profession was not guaranteed by the amendment and backed the state of Illinois.

One of the justices wrote, “The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life… The paramount destiny and mission of women are to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator.”

Well, thank God, times have changed.

Ginsburg herself, after ruling in Bradwell’s favor, commented, “I was very lucky to be born at the right time.”  She continued, “If I had been born a generation earlier, my arguments would have fallen on deaf ears.”

© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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