“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”
-Ruth Bader Ginsburg arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, quoting abolitionist Sarah Grimké.
“I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill—very much like a plumber. But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you.” – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (aka “RBG”)
“People ask me sometimes… ‘When will there be enough women on the court?’ And my answer is, ‘When there are nine.’” - RBG
The world has lost a giant. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court after 200 years of only men, a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, and a cultural icon.
As historian Jill Lepore recently wrote, “Born the year Eleanor Roosevelt became First Lady, Ginsburg bore witness to, argued for, and helped to constitutionalize the most hard-fought and least-appreciated revolution in modern American history: the emancipation of women. Aside from Thurgood Marshall, no single American has so wholly advanced the cause of equality under the law.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the first in her family to go to college, one of nine women in a Harvard Law School class of more than 500 and the first female tenured law professor at Columbia Law School. After graduation, no New York law firm would hire her despite having graduated at the top of her class. As a founder of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project and the ACLU's general counsel, she argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court aimed at laws that treated men and women differently, and won five.
Thanks in large part to Justice Ginsburg, the number of women enrolled in U.S. law schools moved past 50% for the first time in 2016, and for the fourth consecutive year, women outnumber men in law school. 50% of our first year class are women.
Our law school is proud to have some connections with Justice Ginsburg. On November 2, 2018, Justice Ginsburg spoke to our CSU CM|LAW community via Skype in a packed Moot Court Room. Justice Ginsburg spoke about cases from her career that removed barriers and opened doors that had been closed due to gender expectations. Her longtime friend and colleague, CSU C|M|LAW Professor Emerita Jane Picker (2017 CSU C|M|Hall of Fame Honoree), also Skyped in and recounted stories from the years when she and the Justice were part of a small but courageous community of women lawyers. CSU C|M|LAW Professor Ken Kowalski organized and moderated the event that was sponsored by the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association and our Women Law Students Association and included a screening of the documentary “RBG.”
On April 16, 2019, I had the opportunity to interview James Ginsburg, the son of Justice Ginsburg in our Moot Court Room. We also hosted Notorious RBG in Song, a one-act, 75-minute dramatic concert based on the dissents of Justice Ginsburg, created by Justice Ginsburg’s daughter-in-law, soprano Patrice Michaels. The concert featured Michaels and CSU C|M|LAW Grammy-winning pianist Professor Angelin Chang, a long-time friend of James and Patrice. I had a small cameo (thankfully non-singing) appearance.
Immediately after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, I sent a condolence note to Jim and Patrice, and received this heartfelt response from Patrice this morning.
From: Patrice Michaels
To: Lee Fisher <email@example.com>
Cc: James Ginsburg
Yes, it is an amazing feeling, this circle of grief and love and light and determination. Thank you for holding us. We hold you as well,
XO PM & JG
Jim and Patrice- my deepest condolences on your loss; our thoughts and prayers are with you. The world mourns with you. We will be singing her dissents for the rest of our lives.
Two years ago, Peggy and I saw the excellent documentary film “RBG.” About 15 hours later, our first grandchild, Violet Stanley Fisher, was born. In my mind, RBG and Violet will forever be intertwined. While there still is much progress to be made, the world in which Violet will grow up is one full of virtually limitless opportunities for girls and women, thanks to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Monday Moment: Watch these two great videos about Justice Ginsburg.
On Constitution Day, Thursday, September 17, the National Constitution Center awarded the 32nd annual Liberty Medal to Justice Ginsburg for her efforts to advance liberty and equality for all. To honor Justice Ginsburg, the Center aired a video tribute featuring performances by internationally renowned opera singers and tributes from special friends of Justice Ginsburg. Watch the 2020 Liberty Medal ceremony.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.
Have a great day. Have a great week.
For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages.
My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.
Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law | Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law