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A judge who became an iconic figure of her time

Posted February. 25, 2023 07:48,   

Updated February. 25, 2023 07:48


In 1991, the author, who was working as a trial researcher in the U.S., had a chance encounter with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female federal judge in the country, in an elevator. Not one to tolerate silence, the author struck up a conversation with a question: “Have you seen an opera recently?” This brief exchange marked the beginning of a decades-long relationship between them.

A legal journalist close to Ginsburg, often called the ‘judge of judges,’ published conversations with her. Through Ginsburg's words, we gain valuable insights into topics such as law and freedom, love, marriage, as well as victory and defeat.

Throughout her life, Ginsburg was a steadfast advocate for the rights of women and minorities, and her unwavering dedication inspired people of all ages. This commitment extended to her everyday life as well. In 2017, when the author was about to get married, they asked Ginsburg to officiate the ceremony. Ginsburg prepared a draft address that ended with the traditional blessing, “Jeffrey, you may kiss the bride now.” However, a few hours later, she revised the phrase better to reflect the equality between the bride and groom, saying, “Jeffrey, Lauren, it's time to embrace each other for the first kiss of this wedding.” This exemplified Ginsburg's commitment to gender equality.

She also presided over a same-sex wedding held at the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C. in 2013. During the ceremony, she highlighted the expanding concept of “our people” in the U.S. since the birth of the Constitution over two centuries ago. Ginsburg said that marginalized groups, such as former slaves, women, and indigenous people, were not originally included in this concept of “our people.” She emphasized the importance of equality, stating that it is a crucial topic.

Ginsburg was a trailblazer in many ways, being the first to officially use the word ‘gender’ and working tirelessly for the right to abortion. Despite criticism for some of her judgments, she remained driven by an inner force to fight for justice and equality. “I never say to the other person, ‘This opinion is terribly wrong’ or ‘Don't take this opinion seriously,’” she said. Her ability to sincerely listen to others and form connections with people of diverse perspectives may have made her an iconic figure of her time.