Whatever one's views of the courts and jurisprudence, it is impossible to deny the profound influence Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on American law and society. Justice Ginsburg was a brilliant lawyer, whose place in history was secured even before her tenure on the Supreme Court. A great representative of the legal profession, she worked tirelessly throughout her life trying to make America a better place.
Justice Ginsburg will be remembered as a trailblazer, a lawyer, and a justice, but she also displayed an uncommon human grace, as testified to by the numerous young attorneys she mentored—including longtime Manhattan Institute senior fellow Peter Huber, who served as her law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She argued passionately for her deeply held principles, but she also formed friendships with those who had very different views—including the late Justice Antonin Scalia, her dear friend and fellow opera aficionado.
The confirmation fight to secure Justice Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court will doubtless be fierce. Perhaps this inevitable roiling of American politics speaks to the undue reliance we’ve come to place on unelected federal judges to resolve many of our society’s most pressing questions. But the politics can wait for now, as we remember the life and legacy of a remarkable woman.
James R. Copland is a senior fellow and director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of The Unelected: How an Unaccountable Elite is Governing America. Follow him on Twitter here.
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