Monday, April 14, 2014

Justice Ginsburg’s Opinions on Race: Her Past is Prologue

By Christopher R. Scoville
Christopher Scoville is a third-year law student at Albany Law School. He received his B.A. in History with a minor in American Studies from New York University.
In law school, Christopher is pursuing a concentration in Labor and Employment Law, and he is currently employed as a Law Clerk with New York State United Teachers. Additionally, he currently serves as the Director of the Immigration Assistance Pro Bono Project and as Vice-President of the Labor and Employment Law Society.
He prepared this paper (as well as a presentation on the same subject which will be published subsequently), for Professor Bonventre’s Judicial Process Seminar.

This paper examines the life and times of Justice Ginsburg that shaped her into an advocate and set her on a trajectory that would lead to the United States Supreme Court.  The paper then follows that path to opinions Justice Ginsburg issued in cases dealing with race.

From her work in academia to her time with the American Civil Liberties Union, and her opinions since being on the Court, there is no denying Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is ideologically liberal. It is clear that Justice Ginsburg has a long history of arguing and deciding cases impacting many issues, including race based upon her arguments in front of the Supreme Court, her time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and her time as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While on the United States Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg’s most high profile opinions on race have been her dissents. Whether they are on affirmative action (Fisher), Title VII (Ricci), or most recently the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County), her dissents are well thought out and founded on facts and precedent. Her opinions also exhibit something beyond the mere “application of the law.” They seem clearly to be shaped by what Justice Holmes referred to as an “inarticulate and unconscious judgment.”
To read the paper, open HERE.