A Rapper, Elevator and Elephant: Stories Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg Told

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A banner with flowers is pictured on a makeshift memorial outside the United States Supreme Court as people pay their respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington, DC on September 19, 2020.

JOSE LUIS MAGANA / AFP / Getty Images

In recent years, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been surprised to find herself so popular that “everyone wants to take a picture with me.” Justice, who died on Friday at the age of 87, had become a feminist icon, with books, movies, clothes and even coloring books dedicated to her.

People wanted to give him prizes. They wanted to hear him speak. Ginsburg has been asked to speak so often that she has inevitably been asked the same questions and has consistently delivered the same typing phrases to a delighted new audience.

Some of the things Ginsburg liked to say to bands:

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WHAT SHE HAD IN COMMON WITH A RAPPER

Ginsburg became known as “The Notorious RBG,” a play on the name of rapper “The Notorious BIG” Ginsburg liked to note that they had one important thing in common. Both were born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

WHEN YOU ASK FOR ADVICE

Ginsburg often dispensed a piece of wisdom his mother-in-law gave him on his wedding day. The secret to a happy marriage is: “Sometimes it helps to be a little deaf.” Ginsburg said it was also great advice for dealing with colleagues in the field.

ON PARENTAL EQUALITY

James, Ginsburg’s son, was what she called a “living child,” and she often got calls from her New York school about her latest caper. Ginsburg finally told the school, “This kid has two parents. Please alternate calls. It was Ginsburg’s husband’s turn, she said.

So Ginsburg’s husband went to school and was told that James had “stolen the elevator,” taking a group of guards for a ride.

But “after the elevator incident, the calls were only coming in once a semester,” Ginsburg noted, and not because James was behaving better. “They were much more reluctant to take a man away from his job than a woman,” Ginsburg liked to explain.

FACING DISCRIMINATION

Ginsburg has often noted that she had “three strikes” against her while trying to find a job when she graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959, despite graduating at the top of her class. She was Jewish. It was a woman. And she was a mother.

“Getting the first job was difficult for women like me,” she said. “But once you got the first job you did it at least as well as the men and so the next step wasn’t as difficult.

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Ginsburg also liked to note something Judge Sandra Day O’Connor would say: “Sandra said, ‘Where would we both be if there had been no discrimination? Well, today we would be associated with the retirement of a large law firm.

ON HIS FRIEND WITH ANTONIN SCALIA

The true friendship between Liberal Ginsburg and Conservative Judge Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, has intrigued many audiences. Ginsburg explained, “The number one reason I liked Judge Scalia was that he made me laugh.”

The two shared a love of opera. And they were close enough that their families spent the New Year together. Scalia would sometimes call to point out grammar errors in Ginsburg’s drafts. Ginsburg, for his part, would sometimes tell him, “This opinion is so overheated that you would be more persuasive if you change it.” She liked to say, “He never listened to that. “

Ginsburg has often portrayed a famous image of the two men riding an elephant together in India, the heavy Scalia in front and the tiny Ginsburg in the back. Ginsburg’s feminist friends were horrified. Why was she in the back? Weight distribution, she explained.

ON ITS ACHIEVEMENTS

Ginsburg’s mother Celia Bader, who died the day before high school in Ginsburg, never attended college but worked as an accountant. Ginsburg would sometimes ask the public, “What is the difference between an accountant in the Garment District of New York and a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States?” His response: “A generation”.

ON THE CHANGE OF CONSTITUTION

When asked how she might change the Constitution if given the opportunity, Ginsburg liked to point out the effort in the 1970s to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which was not ratified by three states. Ginsburg said it was always a good idea to drop by.

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“I have three granddaughters,” Ginsburg liked to say. “And I would like to be able to pull out my pocket Constitution and say that equal citizenship for men and women is a fundamental principle of our society.

ON THE WOMEN OF THE SUPREME COURT

Ginsburg, the second female judge, was sometimes asked when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court. His response: “When there are nine. She explained, “Some people are bewildered until they remember that for most of our country’s history there were only men on the high court bench.

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