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Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Supreme Court justice inspires law students

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A 2006 photo of Brian Bloodworth, left, who was the pre-law president of Phi Alpha Delta fraternity at the time, and Phi Alpha Delta members Jeremy Zarzycki, Heather Lane and Ryan Williams posing with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the James E. Rogers College of Law. Bader Ginsburg passed away Friday, Sept. 18.

In honor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away Friday, Sept. 18, the Daily Wildcat looks back at her 2006 visit to the University of Arizona campus. 

Originally published Sept. 13, 2006, written by Kelly Lewis


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke fondly of her friendships with former justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Chief Justice William Rhenquist, exposing an intimate side to the Supreme Court in the 27th annual Isaac Marks Memorial Lecture.

In her first visit to the UA, Ginsburg advocated the importance of respect and tolerance in the face of disagreement and illustrated her respect for the late Rhenquist.

“Of all the bosses I’ve had, Rhenquist ranked among the fairest and most efficient,” Ginsburg said. “He kept us all in line and on time.”

Ginsburg joked about the gold-striped robe Rhenquist wore, which he designed himself. She referenced a time when someone asked, “Why would a man who is surely not given to sartorial splendor decide on such a costume?”

“He said he did not want to be upstaged by the ladies,” Ginsburg said with a laugh.

In honor of Rhenquist, who spent many years residing and practicing law in Arizona, the James E. Rogers College of Law will be unveiling the William H. Rhenquist Center sometime in the next year, said Toni Massaro, dean of the College of Law.

Massaro said the center will be a “non-partisan think tank” and will attract distinguished speakers to the university.

“We want to continue to bring to the college high-profile, exciting speakers to debate some of the most important constitutional issues of the day,” Massaro said. “We think of it as a service not just to our students, but to the nation.”

The center has received support from various justices on the Supreme Court.

Justice Stephen Breyer will be on the governing board, as will former Justice O’Connor, and Ginsburg has additionally voiced her support of the new center.

“The Rhenquist Center will pursue things that were important to Rhenquist himself,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg said she also respected O’Connor and felt sorrow about her retirement.

“As the first woman on the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor set a pace that I could scarcely match,” said Ginsburg. “Our secretaries used to joke that Justice O’Connor had a secret twin sister helping her out!”

Massaro said the College of Law was lucky to have Ginsburg speak.

“Her presence here helps to humanize the court, and I think it inspires students,” Massaro said. “I want all students to imagine themselves one day occupying those types of roles.”

Brenda Munoz, a first-year law student, said she was inspired by Ginsburg’s lecture, as a woman studying law.

“In this field, women are still very much the minority, so to see such an idol, is amazing,” Munoz said.

Ginsburg addressed the conflicts that have arisen between justices regarding issues such as the death penalty for minors and affirmative action.

“Aside from our occasional differing opinions, we very much like and respect one another,” Ginsburg said. “The press always finds disagreement interesting and agreement boring, but we were, in fact, unanimous in 55 percent of our cases.”

Mike Miller, a first-year law student, said he was impressed by the way Ginsburg advocated respect and tolerance for differing views.

“It shows why the judiciary branch is so important,” Miller said.

Jason Simon, a second-year law student, said he enjoyed Ginsburg’s advice because it is important to respect others, even in the face of disagreement.

Ginsburg concluded her lecture by answering questions from law students, adding, “We should look for enlightenment wherever we can get it.”

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