Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Principles & Values
Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. Clinton 1993)
In her senior year, another professor, Marcus Singer, was hauled before Senator Joseph McCarthy's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and indicted for refusing to name fellow members of a Marxist study group.
She'd begun working as a research assistant to Professor Cushman, helping him put together an exhibition on book burning, and here was censorship unfolding before her eyes. Cushman pointed out that lawyers had come to Singer's rescue. "I got the idea that being a lawyer was a pretty good thing," RBG recalled, "because in addition to practicing a profession, you could do something good for your society.
What was meant by "alternative," and what was hinted by RBG's use of the phrase "life partner" was a marriage in which the woman didn't lose herself and her autonomy, in which two humans shared their lives and goals on equal footing. It wasn't so common anywhere, least of all among people who came of age in the 1950s.
In an argument almost no one took seriously at the time and few have since, Kennedy and O'Connor's majority opinion said a recount would violate the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. It would supposedly "value one person's vote over that of another." The same words in the Constitution that had been used to desegregate schools, and which RBG had used to enshrine women's equality, were being used to shut down democracy.
"Fight for the things that you care about," RBG advised young women, "but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." RBG always tells her clerks to paint the other side's arguments in the best light, avoiding personal insults. She is painstaking in presenting facts, on the theory that the truth is weapon enough.
When one reads accounts of Jews in American politics, the common theme is that Jews have achieved prominence in art, literature, academia, certain businesses, and entertainment, but not in politics or government. The Jewish politician was the exception, not the rule.
In the last third of the 20th century, however, that pattern changed. By 2000, Jews had become as prominent in the political realm as they have been in other aspects of American life. And Jewish participation is accepted for the contributions these activists make, not because of their Jewishness. Nothing could symbolize this trend more cogently than the nomination of Joseph Lieberman for vice president in 2000 and the national reaction to his candidacy. [Lieberman says]:
Although politics was not exactly a Jewish profession, individual Jews did throw themsleves into the democratic process. Some were traditional politicians; others machine politicians. Many more, such as Emma Goldman and the radicals of the early 20th century, were inspired by the ideal that they had a duty to repair the world—Tikkun Olam.[This book] provides brief biographical sketches for more than 400 Jews who have played prominent roles in American political life. The roster provides much of the basic information that we felt was previously lacking in one place.
Many reasons account for the broader representation of Jews in American civic life today. The forces of antisemitism have been relegated to the extreme margins of society, the principle of meritocracy has increasingly opened the doors of opportunity. Moreover, the idealism and purpose that were spawned by the movements for civil rights, opposition to the war in Vietnam, environmentalism, and other causes drew many Jewish Americans into the political arena. Jews are admonished tp help perfect the world by the ancient wisdom of Rabbi Tarfon, who tells us, “You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to withdaw from it.”
|Other Justices on Principles & Values:||Ruth Bader Ginsburg on other issues:|
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(since 1993)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Anthony Kennedy(since 1988)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
Natural Law Platform