Justice Ginsburg at the U of M: Women's rights, the environment and memes


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg brought her decades of judicial and life experience to the University of Minnesota Tuesday night, letting the hundreds of community members, staff and students who came to hear her speak know the one thing they all attended to hear: She is, indeed, aware of the Notorious RBG meme.

"My grandchildren love it," she told the crowd with a laugh, according to the Pioneer Press.

The 81-year-old associate justice, known for her prominent role in advocating for women's rights, spoke at the university's Willey Hall Tuesday, touching on everything from social media to same-sex marriage, her role in past landmark Supreme Court cases and what notable cases are yet to come, the Minnesota Daily reports.

Ginsburg is the second woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the first Jewish justice. She assumed the position in 1993 after 13 years with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Recent rulings, and what's to come

Ginsburg restated her views on the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, which said certain for-profit companies cannot be compelled to pay for specific types of contraceptives for their employees through health plans – if those company leaders have religious objections to birth control.

The ruling was 5-4. Ginsburg was one of the dissenting opinions.

“An employer for for-profit companies should not be able to impose their beliefs on their employees,” she said Tuesday, according to the Minnesota Daily.

She also weighed in on what's to come for same-sex marriage, which has been the subject of ruling after ruling on seemingly every level of the judicial system.

The Washington Post reports Ginsburg said the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't need to issue a ruling in haste, since the lower courts have all come to the same conclusion so far – striking down same-sex marriage bans in numerous states.

Currently the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals – which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee – has yet to rule on the issue, the Washington Post notes. And if that court rules differently as it appears will happen, the paper says it becomes more likely the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue soon.

Doling out advice

Ginsburg offered those in the audience some advice.

The Pioneer Press reports, when asked by a young boy what the next big issue in the courts would be, she said the environment.

"Saving our planet will be a central issue of your time," she told the 12-year-old, the paper says. She also suggested those who were interested in law focus on technology and discrimination.

She told women in the audience not to hide their opinions, the Minnesota Daily says, and to instead voice them the way previous generations did.

"She really wants us to renew the spirit of women in the '70s,” first-year law student Julia Peng told the paper.


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