Considering Ginsburg's legacy
Professors Neil Siegel and Lisa Kern Griffin contributed chapters to a new book considering Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy as a law professor, a groundbreaking litigator focused on women’s rights, an appellate judge, and a Supreme Court associate justice. Scott Dodson ’00, the Harry & Lillian Hastings Research Chair and a professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, edited the volume and also wrote a chapter.
As Dodson notes in his preface, Ginsburg has had a towering impact on women’s rights as a jurist, but her influence on gender equality and the law began more than 40 years ago with her work — and many victories — as chief litigator for the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. Siegel and his co- author Reva B. Siegel, the Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law at Yale, focus their article on one of Ginsburg’s efforts from that period, her 1972 merits brief in Struck v. Secretary of Defense, a case the Supreme Court declined to hear. Her lifelong commitment to substantive equality is clear in the brief, they write.
“The brief demonstrates that, from the start, Justice Ginsburg has viewed laws imposing traditional sex stereotypical roles on pregnant women as a core case of sex discrimination,” said Siegel, a scholar of constitutional law who clerked for her during the 2003-2004 Supreme Court term. “She argued in Struck that such laws violated equal protection because they denied individual women equal opportunity and imposed on women as a group a dependent, subordinate status in American society.”
Griffin, a scholar of evidence and constitutional criminal procedure, addresses the collective impact of Ginsburg’s Supreme Court opinions relating to criminal procedure which, she writes, resonate with the justice’s work against discrimination.
“Her conception of a fair criminal-justice process is infused with equality principles, and particularly with the conviction that the government should not foster inequality, and should work to remedy the effects of past injustices,” writes Griffin.