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My RBG story.
In March 1993, two months before she was nominated to the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the Madison Lecture at the NYU law school. I was a baby prof in the Poli Sci department at the time, and a buddy of mine was clerking for RBG, so I went over to the law school to hear the speech out of some combination of professional obligation and wanting to hang out with a friend after we got the speech out of the way. Honestly, I had never heard of Ginsburg other than through my friend’s clerkship, and I had no intrinsic interest in hearing her talk, which I figured would be something about women’s rights, blah blah blah.
27 years later, and I still remember that speech – “Speaking in a Judicial Voice” – like it was yesterday.
RBG wasn’t about “women’s rights”.
RBG was all about EQUAL RIGHTS for ALL citizens. RBG was all about EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER LAW for ALL citizens.
That’s it. It’s really as simple (and as difficult) as that.
In particular, I remember that RBG had zero use for theoretical or symbolic notions of equal rights, what today we’d call virtue signaling. She was all about the real world. To RBG, the core issue of equal rights in the real world was WORK. Are you doing the work? Then dammit, you should get paid for doing the work!
Again, it’s as simple (and as difficult) as that.
Equal rights and equal protection under the law for ALL citizens. An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work for ALL citizens. Liberty and justice for ALL.
If you want to know what RBG was all about …
If you want to know why RBG’s death is such a loss for the UNITED States of America …
Please read her speech – “Speaking in a Judicial Voice” – which you can download as a PDF here.