NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an advocate for women's rights before she joined the high court, said Friday that one of her favorite techniques to persuade men on legal issues was to get them to think about how they want the world to be for their daughters.
Ginsburg spoke at Yale University on Friday as part of the university's Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights. She was interviewed by former New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who lectures at Yale Law School.
The 79-year-old Ginsburg was instrumental in launching the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, successfully arguing gender discrimination cases in the 1970s.
"The major problem that gender equity advocates faced in the 1970s was the perception that laws that differentiated between men and women did so for a benign purpose, to protect the women," Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg, who joined the high court in 1993, said advocates had to show the harmful nature of such laws.
"That was one of my favorite techniques," Ginsburg said while discussing the influence the granddaughters of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist had on him. "I would try to get men to think not so much about what good husbands or fathers they had been but how do they want the world to be for their daughters."
She said laws overtly restricting and discriminating against women are largely gone, but she noted that discrimination cases and other issues such as work-life balance and unconscious hiring biases remain.
Ginsburg is now one of three female justices on the high court. She said when she's asked when there will be enough, she replies, "When there are nine," sparking laughter.
Ginsburg said her response is usually greeted by astonishment, but she reminds people there were nine men since the court sat.
These days, Ginsburg joked there appears to be a contest between Justices Antonin Scalia and Sonia Sotomayor over who will ask the most questions.
"They are not shrinking violets," Ginsburg said of hew newer colleagues. "We look like we belong."