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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE What We Can Expect From Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Statement of Frank Askin, ACLU General Counsel For IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 27, 1993 WASHINGTON -- I have been asked to make a few comments on our newest Justice because of my relationship with her over the last 30 years. I, of course, do not pretend to predict how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will decide specific cases, and I am well aware that as a member of the D.C. Circuit she did not invariably vote the way the ACLU would have preferred. But I do know that she has a longstanding, demonstrated commitment to justice, equality and other fundamental values of the United States Constitution. And as such, I expect her to bring a constitutional perspective to the High Court that has too often been missing since the retirements of Justices Brennan and Marshall. I was a student in the first class that Ruth Ginsburg ever taught. We both came to Rutgers Law School in Newark in the fall of 1963, she as a new law professor and me as a student. From her first day in the classroom, Professor Ginsburg was the consummate professional with a zeal for federal jurisprudence. The intricacies and idiosyncracies of federal procedure were her passion, as befits a future member of the Supreme Court. It was she who sparked my own interest in the subject matter, and when I was graduated from Rutgers three years later and joined the faculty, Ruth was my guide and my mentor as I joined her as a teacher of civil procedure to the Rutgers first year classes. There was no one more knowledgeable about the processes of the federal judicial system. For the next half dozen years, we were faculty colleagues. If there is one thing I can say with certainty about Ruth's interaction with her colleagues, it is that she is a good listener and a persuasive advocate. In academic politics, she was the least partisan of our 20-some member faculty, but was always thoughtful and assured when it came to decision time. She was not a back-slapper or a horse-trader, but convinced people of the soundness of her own position by the sheer power of her intellect. I found this same kind of quiet persuasiveness in Ruth when we served together as ACLU General Counsel from 1976 until she was appointed to the federal bench by President Carter in 1980. Although she had a special commitment to issues of equal protection while she was an ACLU leader, she also had a wide-ranging concern for all aspects of civil liberties and the work of the organization. I think she can be expected to perform in a similar manner as a Justice. She will be a major influence on the Court, at least among those who are not ideologically wedded to a particular outcome, because of her intellectual talents and because she can usually demonstrate the rightness of her views. I fully expect Justice Ginsburg to make an immediate difference on the Court in several important areas, including: GENDER EQUALITY. With a long history of leadership in this area, Justice Ginsburg can be expected to provide important guidance as the develops guidelines in the area of sexual harassment, where lower federal courts have exhibited tentativeness in trying to accommodate the rights of women in the workplace with free speech. ABORTION RIGHTS. Despite her much-discussed speech at New York University, I have no doubt that Justice Ginsburg will be an ardent protector of the rights of women to control their own bodies and will guarantee that there will be no further erosion of the principles of Roe v. Wade. She may come at this issue through the prism of equal protection, rather than the principles of privacy upon which Roe was based, but I am confident that women's freedom of choice in such matters will be well guarded by her. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has demonstrated a life-long commitment to freedom of choice in matters of faith as well as in matters of reproductive rights. Her dissenting opinion from the en banc decision in Goldman v. Sec. of State, involving the right of an Orthodox Jew to wear a yarmulke while on duty as an Army medical officer, is clear evidence of that commitment. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. My own confidence that Justice Ginsburg has a personal commitment to affirmative action programs to assist members of oppressed minorities gain access to the social mainstream dates to her days at Rutgers Law School. Professor Ginsburg was an ardent supporter of the law school's affirmative action program, which was one of the earliest and most extensive of such programs in American higher education. I am personally confident that as a Supreme Court Justice, she will demonstrate similar sensitivity to the problems and needs of our country's minority communities. FREEDOM OF SPEECH. While on the D.C. Circuit, Judge Ginsburg has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to freedom of speech. Especially in the areas of libel law, symbolic speech and government conditions on publicly subsidized speech, her views seem to be more protective of free expression than the old Supreme Court majority. ACCESS TO JUSTICE. I am particularly optimistic that the addition of Justice Ginsburg to the High Court will help end the steady erosion of rights of access to federal courts by litigants seeking to enforce federally guaranteed rights. Both her scholarly commitment to the integrity and independence of the federal court system and her performance on the D.C. Circuit provide hope for those of us who have greatly lamented the direction of federal jurisprudence in the post-Warren Court Era. Justice Ginsburg is unlikely to side with the neo-Federalists on the Court who have invoked concepts such as standing, justiciability, committee and abstention to preclude litigation of important issues in the federal courts. I am hopeful that she will take up where Justice Brennan left off in his unwavering fight to restore federal system courts as places where "human rights under the Federal Constitution are always a proper subject for adjudication." --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher://aclu.org:6601 | American Civil Liberties Union National Office ftp://aclu.org | mailto:infoaclu@aclu.org | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"

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