Leaders in the Law: Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Sonia Sotomayor
by Christina Overton October 27, 2016
“What’s the difference between a bookkeeper in the garment district and a Supreme Court justice? One generation.” – Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Lawyers, law students, and curious minds eager to hear from U.S. Supreme Court Justices filled the New York City Bar Association on Tuesday night. The hot ticket of the evening was The Barbara Paul Robinson Series: Profiles of Leaders in the Law, with U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Sonia Sotomayor.
The talk was moderated by Charlie Rose, who kept the audience enraptured with prompts on topics such as the role of the Supreme Court, the early lives of the justices, and the main players who were integral to their appointments to the highest court (for Justice Ginsburg, her late husband, Martin Ginsburg, and for Justice Sotomayor, her mother, Celina Sotomayor).
Justice Ginsburg shared fascinating experiences from championing the civil rights of women, explaining the challenge of convincing the courts that women’s exemption from the obligations of citizenship – such as serving on a jury – appeared to put women on a pedestal. “The pedestal turned out to be a cage.”
Justice Sotomayor noted the Supreme Court’s lack of diverse background and life experiences – the court has no criminal defense lawyers or representation from small and mid-sized firms – and how the court is not reflective of the broad society the court serves. “It’s inescapable for us to be aware of the impact of our decisions.”
In terms of life and career advice, Justice Sotomayor had this insight: “If you want real satisfaction, do something that helps repair the tears in society.”
Justice Ginsburg and Sotomayor’s words are especially pertinent as we celebrate National Pro Bono Week. Their dedication to upholding the United States Constitution and protecting equal justice under the law reminds us of their great examples of leadership through public service.
Read the full highlights from the talk in this Washington Post article.
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