Justice Ginsburg’s Senate Confirmation hearings were extraordinarily collegial, even for that time in history. Both Democrats and Republicans were awed by the extremely high ethical bar she set for herself, not only as a jurist in the D.C. Court, but also as an advocate in the years preceding her appointment to the bench.
Despite the overflowing praise heaped upon her by so many in her confirmation hearings, I chose this very short clip of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s introduction because of the fact that she so succinctly summarizes the impact – unfortunately unknown to most – that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on women’s rights as an advocate. That impact is, without hyperbole, nearly immeasurable. The cases she argued before the court altered forever our understanding on what equal treatment before the law means not just for women, but for everyone. She did not argue any of the controversial cases that today are still a matter of contention. What makes her impact so astounding is that none of the decisions arising from her advocacy are controversial in the least.
Instead, we take them for granted. Which, in some ways, is what makes them so powerful.
But history moves so fast now that it is impossible to keep up with. Nonetheless, knowing it remains the duty of all citizens, so that we may learn from it.
I hope you will watch this clip, at the very least, so that you might have some understanding of where the rights we all take for granted originated, and appreciate what an ethical, knowledgeable, hard working, decent, and humane justice looks like.
Heroes are important. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by any fair reading of the term, is certainly a hero.
note: there are issues with the embedding that are, at least for now, apparently beyond my control. But although when you click the link it will momentarily appear as though the whole first section of the hearing is being pulled up, that is not the case. After the C-SPAN screen appears, it will go straight to the very short – approximately 2 minute – clip of Representative Norton (as well as, at times, the ability to see Justice Ginsburg beside her, seemingly simultaneously embarrassed and proud.)