Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is speaking out about women’s equality. At an event in central Arkansas hosted by the Clinton Foundation and Clinton School of Public Service, the 86-year-old covered everything from her experiences in law school to her time on the high court.
At one point in the discussion, Ginsburg recalled a “lonely” period in the late 2000s when she was the only woman on the Supreme Court — a development that seemed odd, if not “wrong,” in her view.
“It was a lonely position”
Politico reported that Ginsburg — who was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton — had enjoyed sharing the bench with the first female jurist on the high court, Reagan-nominated Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, until O’Connor’s retirement in 2006.
Ginsburg recalled that “it was a lonely position” for her after O’Connor stepped down from the bench. O’Connor was replaced by a male jurist, Bush-nominated Samuel Alito.
“There was something wrong with the picture. The public would see these eight rather well-fed men coming on the bench,” Ginsburg said, “and then there was this rather small woman.”
That “lonely” period as the only woman on the Supreme Court lasted until 2009, when then-President Barack Obama nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the high court. Elena Kagan soon followed.
“You listen when a man speaks”
Ginsburg also spoke on Tuesday about being a woman throughout law school and working as an attorney in a field that had long been dominated by men.
She recalled occasions where she would say something that was totally ignored, only to find that a male colleague would suggest the same exact thing and hear in reply: “That’s a good idea. Let’s discuss it.”
“You don’t expect very much from women, so you kind of tune out when she speaks. But you listen when a man speaks,” Ginsburg lamented.
The confirmation of Sotomayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court gave Ginsburg hope for the future of gender equality in the judicial system, she recalled.
Ginsburg also spent some time on Tuesday discussing her recent battle with cancer, reassuring the audience that she is doing well.
“I am feeling very good tonight,” she said.