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January 28, 2007
Ginsburg Decries Sexism By Being Sexist

The Washington Post has a short report on a speech given by Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Suffolk's law school in which she complained about her isolation as the Supreme Court's only woman. She then told the students that men lack the sensitivity than women bring to the bench (via Memeorandum):

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Friday that she dislikes being "all alone on the court" nearly a year after the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor.

Ginsburg, who spoke to an assembly at Suffolk University Law School, said she sees more women in law school, arguing before the court and sitting as federal judges. ...

Of herself and O'Connor, the court's first female justice, Ginsburg said: "We have very different backgrounds. We divide on a lot of important questions, but we have had the experience of growing up women and we have certain sensitivities that our male colleagues lack."

I see. While decrying the supposed sexism that has left her isolated on the bench, Ginsburg wants law students to understand that one has to have two X chromosomes to understand the sensitivies of the law. In other words, she's not opposed to sexism -- only that sexism that doesn't support her own agenda.

This is unadulterated hogwash. One could make that argument for legislators and even executives, the kind of positions that formulate and enforce policy. Having a significant level of representation of women in Congress is desirable as a concept for that reason, although it doesn't confer any sort of automatic benefit on individual female candidates and officeholders. Voters should select them for their policies and positions, and they do.

However, a jurist's job isn't to formulate or enforce policy; it's to render judgments based on the law. Especially at the level of the Supreme Court, "sensivitivities" shouldn't enter into decisions about the Constitutionality of a law or whether proper procedure was followed by a trial court. "Sensitivities" interfere with the dispassionate evaluation of whether the law was applied properly and whether it passes Constitutional muster.

What Ginsburg says in this statement is that she sees the judiciary as a rightful means in which to impose policy outside the legislature and in a manner that is almost impossible to undo. It's a cri de coeur for judicial activism, and I suspect her actual isolation comes from the receding support for such judicial overreach.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 28, 2007 12:07 PM

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