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Ginsburg Speaks about Judicial Elections and Opportunity; Joined by Sotomayor at Women Judge’s Meeting
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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke last night at a question and answer session held during a meeting of the National Association of Women Judges. Ginsburg said in the session that she believes states should not elect judges. She didn’t offer any alternative to the election system but she said she was concerned about the fundraising aspect of such elections and the campaign promises of candidates.

Ginsburg said she dissented in 2002 when the Supreme Court ruled states couldn’t limit what topics or issues judicial candidates talked about. She called the majority ruling (limiting political speech violates the Constitution) in that case the “Gertrude Stein” decision, “An election is an election is an election.” She believes the First Amendment allows states to put “sensible limits” on judicial candidates and hopes her dissent would someday be the majority view on the issue.

Ginsburg was not the only Supreme Court Justice in attendance last evening; she sat on a panel with Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Lady Brenda Marjorie Hale, a justice of the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court also sat on the panel. Last night marked the first time the two female Supreme Court Justices spoke at a public event outside of court. Sotomayor said during the panel she was most surprised at the respect and affection that exists between her colleagues. She had been skeptical about that considering the dissenting opinions and conflicting ideologies present on the court, but no longer has that skepticism.

  
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Ginsburg believed it wasn’t right that there should be only one woman on the Supreme Court and welcomed Sotomayor. Ginsburg was asked to give advice to young women lawyers and what fields they should pursue. She said,

“Your question implies a choice…There were so many closed doors, and now they are all open.”

Ginsburg joined the Supreme Court in 1993. She received her undergraduate degree at Harvard and graduated at the top of her Columbia Law class but not one firm in New York City would hire her because she was a mother. She said it was perhaps a blessing in disguise as she might be a retired partner from major corporate firm rather than a Supreme Court Justice if other choices had been available to her.

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