BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Female power on the highest court

Posted by egehl on September 9, 2009

This week Judge Sotomayor will become the third female ever to serve onsupreme_court_side_view_medium_web_view the Supreme Court. 

It’s amazing that in the court’s history there have only been three female justices.  After reading a recent New York Times interview with Justice Ginsburg, it sounds like she is looking forward to not being the lone female in the Supreme Court halls.  In that interview she talks about being a female in a man’s world not just today, but in the past during her years at law school and thereafter professionally.

During Justice Ginsberg’s confirmation hearings in 1993 she talked about her hope to see three or four women eventually on the court.  That was then, and this is now, and her expectation certainly did not come into fruition.  Thankfully Justice Ginsberg will be joined by another accomplished woman because having only one female would certainly give the wrong impression of the court in our modern age. 

It’s important and matters that women are viewed as having an equal voice at the table especially when it comes to some of the most important decisions made in this country.  Women make up almost 50% of the workforce now, and could soon surpass men, yet ironically the Supreme Court is not reflective of the national trend.

Undoubtedly Justice Sotomayor and Justice Ginsberg will influence the dynamics and decisions made by the court.  Women bring different and needed life experiences and perspectives to legal deliberations and rulings.  Their presence will also be viewed differently.  As Justice Ginsberg talks about in the New York Times interview, women are held at a different standard especially when they act aggressively through their questioning and actions.  She certainly knows this well by being one of only 9 women in her law school class and the first woman tenured at Columbia.ginsburg_190_2

Justice Ginsberg has been a legal trail blazer who has opened the doors for countless women to feel comfortable and have the opportunity to pursue a legal profession. 

This Fall CSPAN will televise an interview with her to talk about her career and work on the court.  The conversation will include an explanation about how the Supreme Court robes were designed for men so that they could wear it with a collar and tie.  When Justice O’Connor was on the court, she and Justice Ginsburg decided they needed to put a womanly touch on the robe and wear it with a variety of feminine white collars.  They thought it was important to wear their robe in a way typical of a woman.  This is just one of many examples of how women must fine-tune their presence on the court. 

I look forward to seeing what kind of collar Justice Sotomayor chooses to wear as she shows the country and world the strength and power of women on the Supreme Court.

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One Response to “Female power on the highest court”

  1. […] mom,” I instantly replied, “but we still only have 2 females out of 9 on the Court. That is not even. It doesn’t matter if we need to put 3 more females on in a […]

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