SEVERE WX : Freeze Warning View Alerts

RBG: 'The pedestal you put women on is a cage'

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says gender-based discrimination confines what women can do.

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 5:29 PM
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 5:31 PM

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg believes the "#MeToo" movement will have "staying power" and that she doesn't worry about a serious backlash.

"It's too widespread," Ginsburg said in an interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow at Columbia University Sunday. "It's amazing," she added, "that for the first time, women are really listened to because sexual harassment had often been dismissed as 'well, she made it up.'"

When Harlow pressed whether Congress was acting quickly enough, Ginsburg paused. "This Congress is not ... I mean it's been very hard even to keep the government going lately," she said to laughter.

"My hope is that Congress will think about people -- where the United States population now is, and I am putting my faith in the millennials," Ginsburg added.

Harlow and Ginsburg held a wide-ranging discussion that also touched on sexism during the 2016 presidential campaign, attacks on the judiciary, the First Amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment and even blindspots on the current court.

RELATED: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with clerk hires, signals desire to outlast Trump

Asked directly whether sexism played a role in the last campaign, Ginsburg said, "I think it was difficult for Hillary Clinton to get by, in the macho atmosphere prevailing during that campaign ... And she was criticized in a way I think no man would have been criticized," she said.

"Sexism played a prominent part," Ginsburg said but stressed that she thought America was ready for a woman president and "will be the next time."

But then she stopped short.

"We should be careful about not getting me too much in the political arena," Ginsburg said to applause.

Attacks on the judiciary

In public, Ginsburg does not comment about President Donald Trump, who angrily tweeted during the campaign that her mind was "shot" after she criticized him. She later said she regretted making the comments.

But Ginsburg did respond to recent verbal attacks on the judiciary and said that the judiciary depends upon members of the bar and the public to help preserve the institution. An independent judiciary is one of the nation's "hallmarks," she said.

Harlow referenced comments made by now Supreme Court Justce Neil Gorsuch during his nomination process, when he told one senator last February that such attacks are "demoralizing and disheartening."

"Well, they are disheartening, yes. But there are people, lawyers, who speak out in defense of an independent judiciary, and point out how important that is to our system," Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg has been on a speaking tour of sorts during the winter recess of what is a momentous term. The justices have already heard arguments on cases concerning religious liberty, immigration, voting rights and digital privacy, and this spring they will take up the travel ban and potentially a case concerning DACA.

Ginsburg, the leader of the liberal wing on the court, will celebrate her 85th birthday this spring, as well as the 25th anniversary of her nomination by President Bill Clinton.

So far on and off the bench, she shows no signs of slowing down, actively participating at oral arguments. Last month she appeared in Park City, Utah, for the unveiling of a new documentary about her life co-produced by CNN. She is regularly greeted at speaking events with a standing ovation.

'Practice exam'

At her speaking events, she gives young women advice and tells the story of her rise in the law and the difficulties she encountered.

On Sunday, she recounted that as a student at Cornell University, she once asked a chemistry professor for extra help. He gave her a "practice exam" to help her. But the next day she learned that the practice exam was in fact the real exam. She was outraged.

"I knew just what he expected in return," she said. She went back to the professor and asked "how dare you?"

"There were many incidents like that, but in those days the attitude was, 'what can we do about it? Nothing. Boys will be boys.'"

After law school, she had a hard time finding a job. She had three strikes against her, she said. She was Jewish, she was a woman, and she had a baby.

That daughter, Jane, who is now a professor at Columbia, was in the audience as well as three of Ginsburg's grandchildren.

She said that she has "had it all" during her long life, but "not necessarily at one time."

Her professional life was buoyed by her marriage of 56 years to Martin Ginsburg, a noted tax lawyer who died in 2010.

RELATED: Judiciary leaders want action on preventing sexual misconduct in courts

When she was a young lawyer at the ACLU working on gender equality, her husband took an active role on the home front. He "phased" her out of the kitchen much to her children's delight because he was a far better cook.

She also spoke about the influence of her mother who died when she was in high school. "What is the difference between a book keeper in the garment district and a Supreme Court justice," she asked.

"One generation."

She said her mother armed her with the "strength to persist".

"I suppose she thought it would be fine if I met Prince Charming, but 'fend for yourself' was her message. Be independent."

Backs an Equal Rights Amendment

Ginsburg is still holding out for an Equal Rights Amendment to come along some day.

"Equal stature of men and women is as fundamental as the basic human rights," she said.

She said that while there is the equal protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment, "every Constitution in the world written since the year 1950 has the equivalent statement that men and women are people of equal citizenship stature."

Pointing to her granddaughters, she said: "I would like to be able to take out that pocket constitution and say to them, 'You see this statement of the equal stature of men and women is as fundamental as the basic human rights. The right to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the equal stature of men and women.'"

She said it "belongs in the Constitution" and she is gratified that there have been efforts to revive the amendment."

Importance of free press

Harlow also asked her about the importance of the First Amendment and attacks on the press.

"It's been that way from the very beginning," Ginsburg said, noting that Thomas Jefferson was distressed at what the press was reporting, but he didn't think the press should be squelched.

"Do you think that those holding the highest offices now politically, think the press should be squelched?," Harlow asked.

"I will not respond to that question," Ginsburg said but added, "a free press is of tremendous importance to a society."

Collegiality on the Court

Of her current colleagues, she stressed that they get along.

"I have the best job in the world for a lawyer."

"I respect all of my colleagues and genuinely like most of them," she said. She noted "we are in this together."

But she talked about a dissent in an 2014 opinion concerning employer provided contraception and religious liberty. She said her male colleagues in the majority were blind to the fact that "contraceptive coverage was an essential part of health care for women." Ginsburg, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. She said the majority suffered from a blind spot.

Is it still there?

"Yes," she allowed, "but less and less over time."

Harlow questioned when there will be enough female justices on the court, something Ginsburg is frequently asked. "When there are nine of course," she said with a twinkle.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 27°
Robinson
Partly Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 25°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 20°
Paris
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 32°
Mattoon/Charleston
Partly Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 33°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 27°
Terre Haute
Mostly Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 27°
Snow, Freezing Temps
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Meet the 'Black and White Guy,' a local artist that gained national...and international attention

Image

Overnight: Snow, with some acculumation. Low: 29°

Image

Tuesday: Temperatures drop, rain moves in. High: 47

Image

CCTV shows the moment a railroad worker snatched a child from the path of a train

Image

Monday: Mostly sunny, warm. High: 67

Image

Sunday Evening Forecast

Image

weather explainer

Image

mural painting

Image

house fire contained

Image

sullivan co drug arrest

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1304111

Reported Deaths: 23976
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook5225529835
DuPage865471253
Will71908965
Lake64628965
Kane55689753
Winnebago31173459
Madison29860514
St. Clair27165503
McHenry27059278
Peoria21319283
Champaign19785137
Sangamon17788230
McLean16948169
Tazewell15966256
Rock Island14277303
Kankakee13523196
Kendall1234890
LaSalle11786232
Macon10243190
DeKalb9314118
Vermilion9071127
Adams8195117
Williamson7212126
Whiteside6866163
Boone639571
Ogle576378
Clinton570390
Grundy561271
Coles553094
Knox5320137
Jackson485663
Henry471663
Effingham468071
Livingston459683
Macoupin459681
Stephenson452880
Marion4409115
Woodford440662
Franklin433370
Monroe431290
Jefferson4158119
Randolph409284
Lee397051
Morgan376479
Logan364256
Montgomery364273
Fulton363250
Bureau353881
Christian351472
Fayette313654
Perry312959
Iroquois290764
Jersey262749
McDonough259843
Douglas254635
Saline250553
Lawrence239125
Shelby224737
Union222940
Crawford208925
Bond197524
Cass194824
Pike176851
Jo Daviess176524
Clark176132
Warren173846
Wayne173151
Hancock172730
Carroll171336
Richland171340
Ford170146
Edgar166639
White166426
Washington162725
Moultrie157126
Clay147343
Greene142432
Mason141942
Piatt141714
Johnson139214
De Witt139023
Mercer135433
Wabash134112
Massac131139
Cumberland128119
Menard118712
Jasper114317
Marshall99117
Hamilton82215
Schuyler7005
Brown6886
Pulaski6807
Stark61023
Edwards55412
Henderson52114
Calhoun5092
Scott4671
Alexander46211
Gallatin4534
Putnam4473
Hardin36612
Pope3063
Out of IL20
Unassigned02291

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408