A transformed US Supreme Court pays tribute to Judge Ginsburg

By Andrew Chung and John Kruzel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Judges, scholars, attorneys, government officials and current members of the US Supreme Court on Friday paid tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, honoring a liberal, staunch pioneer of women’s rights whose death in 2020 opened the door to a transformative shift to the right opened at the top US Department of Justice.

At a rare session of the Supreme Court Bar Association, made up of attorneys licensed to practice law in court, speeches were delivered by people who had worked closely with Ginsburg, including US Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar, who handled cases for represents the administration of President Joe Biden.

“Her life was a thoroughly American story,” Prelogar said. “She was born into an immigrant family and grew up of modest means. She faced profound adversity and discrimination. But through her intellect, hard work and willpower, she not only reached the pinnacle of her profession, she reshaped it. She broke barriers for those who came after her and she inspired multiple generations.”

A similar meeting took place after the 2016 death of Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, an influential figure on the court whose memory is as great among conservatives as Ginsburg is among liberals. The two lawyers were close friends who shared a passion for opera.

Ginsburg’s death at the age of 87 from cancer was a turning point for the court.

It allowed then-President Donald Trump to make a third court appointment — Amy Coney Barrett — which was quickly confirmed by a Senate then controlled by its Republicans. That gave the court a 6-3 conservative majority, further weakening the power of its liberal bloc and paving the way for decisions like last year’s decision ending recognition of a constitutional right to abortion.

Trump also appointed Conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

The Conservative majority has had no hesitation in taking up contentious issues, including a ruling last year extending gun rights. Based on arguments made since they began their term in October, the conservative justices appear poised in the coming months to end affirmative action policies used by colleges and universities to increase racial diversity on campuses, a federal law further undermine the ban on racial discrimination in elections and allow companies to refuse certain services to LGBT people on the basis of the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

Barrett was confirmed by Senate Republicans a week before the 2020 presidential election. Democrats accused her of hypocrisy after Republicans refused to act on Democratic President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia during a 2016 presidential election year.

Garland, a former Circuit Court judge who is now serving as US Attorney General, was scheduled to speak at a special session of the court after the attorneys’ meeting. Chief Justice John Roberts will also have his say.

Coming from a working-class background in Brooklyn, New York, Ginsburg fought systemic sexism in the ranks of the judiciary to become one of America’s best-known lawyers. Appointed to the Supreme Court by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993, she provided key voices in landmark rulings securing equal rights for women, expanding gay rights and upholding abortion rights.

Ginsburg was the second woman ever to be called to court, after Judge Sandra Day O’Connor. The court now has four women judges for the first time, including Barrett and three Liberal Justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, the latter being Biden’s only appointment.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source : news.yahoo.com

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