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May 1, 2013

Justice Ginsburg Envisions a High Court of Nine Women Justices


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in a Q-and-A session with Ronald A. Cass, dean emeritus of Boston University School of Law, during the Section of International Law Spring Meeting

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg envisions a day when the U.S. Supreme Court is made up entirely of women.

“Sometimes I’m asked the question ‘When will there be enough?’ and I say, ‘Well, when there are nine.’ For most of the country’s existence, there were nine of the same sex and they were all men, and nobody thought that that was out of order,” Ginsburg said at the _ Section of International Law 2013 Spring Meeting.

Ginsburg discussed the influence of international law on the Supreme Court’s decisions as well as the confirmation process and the perception of disharmony among justices during a casual Q-and-A session moderated by Ronald A. “Ron” Cass, dean emeritus of Boston University School of Law and president of Cass & Associates PC.

Ginsburg said that international law should not be considered foreign because this type of law “is the law of nations, and we are a nation.”

“Why is it improper, on a hard question that other constitutional courts have considered, to read and in your opinion, cite such a judgment?” Ginsburg added. “We can look to see how other good minds have wrestled with a similar problem; we can have a dialogue among judges across national boundaries and might come away from those international exchanges with new ideas.”

When asked about the increase in acrimony during the nomination and confirmation process of Supreme Court justices, Ginsburg said, “It will take genuine patriots on both sides of the aisle to say: Enough! We should go back to the way it was.”

“Think of my superb new colleague Elena Kagan — there is no reason why those nominees should have had any negative votes,” Ginsburg added.

Justice Ginsburg also noted the perception that there is “division among the justices” on the current Supreme Court.

“The level of disagreement … is what the press writes about,” Ginsburg said. “So people who think of the court as deeply divided, well, it is not so, in most cases.”

Ginsburg also addressed the role of oral arguments in the court’s decision-making process.

“It’s a very lively court,” Ginsburg said. “It’s true that more questions are asked by this court … most of us think it will be a waste of time if we just sit silently and listen to a lawyer repeat what is already in the brief, so we ought to ask the questions that we think are most difficult.”

A complete video of Justice Ginsburg’s remarks can be seen here.