tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg September 28, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." >> welcome to the program. charlie rose is on assignment. inocencio of bloomberg tv. tonight, we bring you charlie's interview with ruth bader ginsburg, shot on location at the 92nd street y. justice ginsberg: that was the easy job. this is the way women are, this is the way women are. whole separate spheres mentality that ran all through the law, that the man is the breadwinner who counted. if the woman worked, it was just the pin money.
her responsibility was the home and children. the laws were arranged that way. to breakhat we wanted down. the idea was, people should be free to be you and me. talents astheir own far as their hard work and take them, and not be held back by artificial barriers. ♪ the 92ndwelcome to street y. there are many things we will try to fill in about her biographical data. we begin with the fact she was appointed to the supreme court and993 by president clinton served to there. she came to the court with a distinguished career as a professor, an appeals court judge, and as a litigator. she was a great, great trial lawyer. and she has distinguished
herself. [laughter] justice ginsberg: appellate. charlie: she is correct. are you a teacher, also? correcting me so early? [laughter] cannot talknow you about specifics of cases. but you have said the session of court, which begins on the first monday in october, is going to be a momentous year. justice ginsberg: yes. [laughter] charlie: why is that? this is not a yes and no. why? what is coming before the court, in a country that has learned to respect the court so much probably more so than the other , two branches of government, i may say. [applause] justice ginsberg: that is because we know how to disagree without being disagreeable. [applause] charlie: that is the quality of
the court and not the quality of the country right now. justice ginsberg: what is on our calendar? charlie: you have capital redistricting. justice ginsberg: it is partisan redistricting. people think, why bother voting? this is a secure republican district, or, this is a secure democratic district, so my vote does not count. that does nothing for democracy. charlie: what else is coming up this year? justice ginsberg: i think the case that has gotten the most attention is the baker's case. charlie: tell us about that. a wedding? justice ginsberg: a baker in make ao refused to wedding cake for a gay couple. his view was, i will sell them my ordinary cake and cookies. but, i will not create a wedding cake for them because that would
involve expression. i am kind of an artist. when i am making a cake for a wedding, i am creating something. it is against my religious beliefs. it is a clash between antidiscrimination on one hand and the colorado commission on human rights. if you want to be in business and sell things to people, you cannot distinguish among customers. is a religious freedom claim. charlie: when did you fall in love with the law? justice ginsberg: when did i? charlie: you have lived your life in the law. if you married a lawyer. when i marriedg: my dear marty, neither of us were lawyers.
i would say it was the early 19 50's when i was a student at cornell. my first idea was to be a high school history teacher. that was a job where women were welcome. , the 1950's were bad times for the united states. there was a huge red scare in the country. charlie: mccarthyism. justice ginsberg: yes. i worked for a professor of constitutional law that pointed out to me that the senate investigating committee, the house of un-american activities committee, were holding people before the committee and quizzing them about their associations with the height of the depression in the there were 1930's. lawyers standing up for these people and explaining to the members of the congressional
committee that our constitution has a first amendment that says, people have the right to think -- think, speak, and right as they believe. as they believe, and not as big brother tells them is the right way to think, speak and write. we also have the that protects fifth amendment us against self-incrimination. so i got the idea that being a lawyer was a pretty nifty thing. [laughter] charlie: turned out well for you. [laughter] you went to law school, went to harvard. justice ginsberg: yes, but my degree is from columbia. charlie: we will get to that. you got ahead of me. [laughter] charlie: you went to harvard to law school and then moved back to a new york -- to new york and finished at columbia.
you took courses at columbia. later you wanted to get your degree from harvard. they wanted to give you even later, the loss go, because the dean is now one of your fellow justices, justice kagan. and you turned it down. you did not want a honorary degree from the law school. you had wanted an honorary degree from the university itself. justice ginsberg: i had a very safe counselor in that request, my husband. when he became dean of the harvard law school he called and said, ruth, we would love you to have a harvard law school degree. my husband said, hold out for a -- an honorary degree from the university.
[laughter] justice ginsberg: which i got in the year 2011, sadly that was , the year after he died. charlie: it was a fabulous marriage. justice ginsberg: yes. charlie: because he did the cooking. in the ginsberg: beginning, he was the company and weekend cook. i was never permitted to cook for company. [laughter] and then myberg: daughter jane, who was in the audience tonight, when she was in high school, figured out, daddy's cooking was ever so much better than mommy's. so why should he just be the weekend and company cook? so i was phased out of the kitchen. [laughter] since 1980, irg: have not made a meal. charlie: not one?
[applause] charlie: 37 years. justice ginsberg: so what died in after marty 2010, jane, who was responsible g me out of the kitchen, she comes periodically , spend all day cooking, puts individual dinners in my freezer. charlie: you do not like for me to say this and you have said to me before, you are considered, with respect to women's rights, the thurgood marshall for feminism. [applause] anybody who knows about the history of the legal battles believes that. but you have been very reticent with that comparison. justice ginsberg: yes, it is not an apt comparison. whatever i did -- i should say
we copied thurgood marshall's building in building blocks not asking the court to , take a giant step. thurgood marshall would state to courts, separate but equal is not before the house today. these facilities are asking to be equal. thehe said, we can see enforced separation of the races can never be equal. we took that measured approach of building step-by-step and we copied that from him. but the enormous difference is when thurgood marshall came to a , southern town to defend , he did not know if he would be alive at the end of the day. charlie: and you did not face that? justice ginsberg: yes. charlie: but you have called yourself, and others have called you a ferocious feminist litigator. justice ginsberg: a flaming
feminist litigator. [laughter] [applause] charlie: when they say notorious rbg, deal like that? justice ginsberg: my clerks asked me, do you know where that comes from? [laughter] justice ginsberg: yes, i said, i have heard of the notorious b.i.g.. it seems altogether natural. because we have one very important thing in common. -- in common, notorious b.i.g. and me -- we were both born and bred in brooklyn, new york. [applause] charlie: you know something about the notorious b.i.g.. justice ginsberg: yes, he died young. charlie: he did. you also have a new book coming out. or your trainer has a book -- is it your trainer or you? justice ginsberg: it is called
"the rgb workout." charlie: what is your workout habit? is it every day or every other day? justice ginsberg: twice a week. it started in 1999. it was the year of my bout with colorectal cancel -- cancer. i had massive surgery. chemotherapyhs of six weeks of daily radiation. that tryingshed time, my husband said you look like a survivor of auschwitz. you have to do something to build up. i asked around town and a federal district court judge said he has a great trainer. he has trained a lot of the district court judges. you will like him. that was bryant johnson who has been with me since 1999. we meet twice a week from 7:00
a.m. until 8:00 it a.m. and he has brought me up from relatively easy beginnings, through the push-ups and the planks. charlie: you do planks? justice ginsberg: yes, front and side. [applause] charlie: adam liptak said to me you are probably the most outspoken member of the court. do you enjoy that, too? you are out there and sometimes pulling back, where you feel you have gone too far. justice ginsberg: i would dispute adam's label. i would say with my good friend antonin scalia was more outspoken. charlie: tell us about the friendship. you both love to the opera. justice ginsberg: yes. charlie: you had a different
look in terms of how you interpret the constitution. yes? justice ginsberg: yes. charlie: but the friendship transcended any differences, and you have told me before, what a loss it was for you, personally. justice ginsberg: there will be a book of justice scalia's speeches out in october. it was put together by his sons. i wrote the introduction to the book. well, i love nino, particularly because he was a very sunny fellow. and the days when we were buddies on the d c circuit when the bench was only three judges, he would say something, whisper something to me and it would be
, so outrageous, it was all i could do to avoid bursting out laughing. i had to pinch myself. in the court when we were separated, he would pass notes to me. [laughter] charlie: what do you think of your new colleague, justice gorsuch? justice ginsberg: justice gorsuch is very affable, very bright. i first encountered him, although i can't say i recall him in particular, but he was a law clerk on the u.s. court of appeals for the d.c. circuit. i do remember him from the next year when i succeeded barbara white. -- byron white. byron was from colorado and he
charlie: let's look back at the career, not only in terms of the justices you have known. but when you look back, what is the most important majority opinion you have written? justice ginsberg: that is like asking me -- charlie: which children you like best? justice ginsberg: and grandchildren. charlie: but you feel strongly that somehow been enormously significant? justice ginsberg: yes. i would say the majority opinion in the virginia military institute case. tot winter, i went to vmi celebrate the 20th anniversary of that decision. it was a joy to see how well that had worked out. they are very proud of their women cadets. to beare women who ought
engineers, nuclear scientists. they have women on the faculty now. on their board of directors. in general, what the faculty told me, it is a much better place. since you have been a fighter in the trenches for women's rights, measure how far we have come and how far we have to go. justice ginsberg: how far we have come -- well, we are just about finished over gender barriers in the law. that is part of your own accomplishments. justice ginsberg: yes. -- toat was the easy job get rid of, this is the way women are, and this is the way men are. the whole separate spheres
mentality that ran through the law that the man was the bread , winner, and if a woman was at work, she was the pin money earner. her place was in the home. the laws were arranged that way. that is what we wanted to break down. the idea was, people should be free to be you and me, to as far their own talents as their hard work could take them, and not be held back by artificial barriers. think how it was in the 1960's. there were no women in policing or women firefighters. states had ruled that women could not work at night. aich meant if say, you were server at a banquet, you get the best tips at night, not in the afternoon. there were so many distinctions
that made no sense for the way people live today. say, in the beginning of the 1970's it was still a closed door era, these doors are closed to women. and now, the doors are open. if they are shut, they are title vii or principal discrimination in employment law. what remains is what is often called the unconscious bias. charlie: and in racism called implicit racism. and what is that? is it simply sexism that exists without people knowing it? that they exercise a kind of unconscious discrimination? justice ginsberg: it is not deliberate.
there was a title vii case that i think was a very good illustration. it is a case of the late 1970's. it is about promoting women -- it was against at&t, and it was about promoting women to middle-management jobs. so the women did very well. at least as well as the men, up until the last test, which was called "a total person test." what was the total person test? it was an interviewer sitting with the candidate having a conversation, like we are having a conversation. if the interviewer faced someone who looked like him, there was a certain comfort level. he felt at ease. but, if he was confronting of a different gender, a different race, he was a little
uneasy. does not quite know who this person is. he feels strange and uncomfortable. so at that last step, the total person test, the women dropped out disproportionately. ,it was not because the interviewer deliberately engaged in discrimination. charlie: simply felt uncomfortable? justice ginsberg: yes. and i think that the best illustration of that unconscious bias is what happened to symphony orchestras across america. when i was growing up, i never saw a woman in a symphony orchestra, except perhaps, the harp player. a critic for the new york times
who was a very distinguished music critic swore he could tell , the difference between a woman and a man playing the violin or playing the piano. so, some people decided, let's put it to the test. let's blindfold him. he flunked the blindfold test. he was all mixed up. he said, that is definitely a man -- no, that is a woman. then someone came up with the brilliant idea, why don't we drop the curtain at the auditions so the people who are doing the judging will not see the person who was auditioning? and with that simple device, the dropped curtain, women began to show up in numbers. no longer one at a time curiousities --
curiosities. charlie: did you once say something like there were not enough women on the supreme court? justice ginsberg: i was asked if you have three, when will there be enough? charlie: you said nine. [applause] charlie: what do we need? is it cultural now? what do we need to break down the remaining sub conscious or unconscious barriers? justice ginsberg: for one thing, the more women they are in decision-making places, the more women will enter those fields. life,e: you believe your when they come to write about you, and they are already writing about you, you're still on the court and you are still facing momentous questions that you would be one of the nine
justices that speak to -- but in the end, no matter what you do on the court, it is your lifelong battle for feminism, for women's rights, that is to find your life and will put you -- that is what we will most appreciate about your life? not a decision you have contributed to, but a lifelong commitment. justice ginsberg: -- commitment to women's equality. justice ginsberg: i hope so. think of the tremendous fortune i had. i was alive and a lawyer in the when it became possible. 1970's,-- when it became possible for change to occur. up until 1970, it was hopeless. the turning gender point discrimination case, we put on the brief the names of two women.
, becauseanyon and -- these were the women were saying the same things that we said at a time when society was not prepared to listen. missions was to put women on juries in every state in the country. young people today would be astonished. charlie: that there were not women jurors? justice ginsberg: that women were not serving on juries. she was a woman way ahead of her time. with respect to race discrimination and gender discrimination. when you we will see a woman as president? justice ginsberg: we came pretty close. charlie: you think sexism played a role in the campaign. justice ginsberg: do i think so? i have no doubt that it did. [applause]
was decisive?t words, ifn other hillary clinton had been a man, she would have won that election? justice ginsberg: there are so many things that might have been decisive. but that was a major, major factor. what i find hopeful is remembering back to my earliest years on the court when the women in the senate and the women at the court in those days -- women at the court -- in those days it was sandra day o'connor and me -- every year we would have dinner together. the women in the senate would hold a dinner one year, and we would at the court the next year. there were six women in the senate, then. now we have seen that number grow, not nearly enough. but it is quite a different scene.
the more women that are out there doing things -- the more people see that women are not all alike. we come in all sizes and shapes. so that to me, to see the entrance of women into places where they were not there before , is a hopeful sign. charlie: tell me what you worry about when you think about our country today. i just hopeberg: that we will stay in tune with our most basic values. charlie: do you worry that we are not? justice ginsberg: the united states has always had a attention between -- charlie: tension --
justice ginsberg: between our fever for liberty and our concern for security. other countries have faced that to a greater extent. israel is one. wise formerery chief justice of the supreme court of israel who said we could give our enemy no greater gift than if we allow our concern for security to so --rwhelm us, that we become we come to resemble our enemy. charlie: we become a closed society. justice ginsberg: yes, more and more. we surrender what makes us proud and what makes us free. charlie: so we build walls and try to keep people out. this is notberg:
something new in the united states. think about what happened in world war ii. when people of japanese ancestry were taken from their homes and put in detention camps, for no reason other than -- charlie: fear. justice ginsberg: yes. are going back early into the history of our country, the alien and sedition act. i think it was the adams administration. charlie: i am asking you right now, at this time in 2017, september of 2017, you are genuinely worried that in the interest of security, we may be trampling on individual liberties? justice ginsberg: am i worried? charlie: yes. justice ginsberg: yes. but i am also encouraged by the number of people, especially young people, who do not want this to happen.
themselves insing us.sition, reminding as i said earlier in our conversation about the 1950's -- reminding us of our most basic values of the freedom. and if we surrender that, than we really are indistinguishable. charlie: what is the strength of the country? you sit there on the supreme court as one of nine people. and the constitution and bill of rights are a strength for this country. justice ginsberg: do you know d forong "valid -- "balla america?" charlie: yes. justice ginsberg: there is a line and that is the right to speak my mind is america. the other is diversity of our country.
this was brought home to me in the 1960's. i was off in sweden for four months. my first subway ride when i came back to new york, i look at the people in that car, from every race, every region of the world. somehow, we have been able to be many, and yet, one, in our attachment to freedom and liberty. and i grew up, i memorized the lazarus -- emma lazarus' poem. this country is a country that americans,or native
in this country, we all have a origin from someplace else. people came here seeking freedom, economic well-being -- charlie: freedom from religious persecution. freedom from to tally in their -- totalitarianism. justice ginsberg: and that is what the land of liberty is. it is a land that welcomes people. -- people who were living under the conditions of oppression. charlie: you are going to have to consider -- tell me where the travel ban is right now. there a recent -- you sent it back because they may have changed the travel ban and added new states. did -- ginsberg: what we the travel ban we have had has expired. it is no longer the law.
so, the court issued an order to briefs onsides file the question, whether this case is now dead. ,here is a new travel ban different from the one that was before. so we have taken it off the calendar, pending what the parties tell us, whether the parties tell us what they think about whether the case is still alive, or that controversy is over, because that ban is no longer in effect. charlie: we do not know yet whether that will come back to the court? justice ginsberg: we will get the parties views on and where the cases lie. they still knows submissions, we will reach a decision. ♪ ♪
charlie: one of the interesting things is, we have an impression -- if you have not been to have anon -- to opportunity to go to the supreme court in see the great statue of john marshall, is it? justice ginsberg: it is, in the great hall. charlie: you can go and watch the justices and listen to the attorneys argue a case. but there are a lot of , impressions of the court. for example, you have said to me
before, there are a lot of things the court agrees on. the number of things they have these spirited, important constitutional debates on is , only a small part of what you do. a lot that comes before you, nine justices agree. justice ginsberg: last term, fully half the decisions were unanimous. there were under 10 when we were divided 5-3. ,most of the time last year we had only eight justices. charlie: under 10 and you are divided, 5-3. justice ginsberg: yes. the sharp disagreements, 5-4 decisions, runs about 20% in a typical term. charlie: how did the court change when sandra day o'connor left? justice ginsberg: it was a enormous change. charlie: i know, you have spoken to me about it. explain to the audience. justice ginsberg: the simplest
way to put it is, when she left every decision that came out as was out that term, where i one of four, if she had remained -- remained, i would have been one of five. her retirement was a major change. charlie: because she was a swing justice? justice ginsberg: she was, and she was comfortable in that position. some people are indecisive. she was not. charlie: nor are you. justice kennedy now has that role. justice ginsberg: he has, in most cases when we divide 5-4. ,charlie: it gives you who -- huge power doesn't it? ,justice ginsberg: also awesome , responsibility. charlie: you made a surprise
speech, you are the surprise speaker at a jewish new year service. during the services for the new year in washington, telling viewers you believe helped youh empathize -- which is a great quality -- helped you empathize with other minority groups. explain. justice ginsberg: yes, well if you are the outsider, if you belong to a group that was cordoned off and lived in ghettos or lived in constant fear about what the state might do, and this was brought home to by being a child yearst up in world war ii .
so if you come from a group with a history of oppression, a minority status, then you will be empathetic to others who are outsiders. you are now the longest serving jewish member of the court. justice ginsberg: yes. [applause] people haveberg: been asking me now for some time, because my next birthday i will be 85 -- charlie: 85, all right. [applause] say, a: and might we healthy 85. [applause] justice ginsberg: it started i guess when i turned 70 -- when are you going to step down? i had a stock answer. wasid, justice brandeis appointed at the same time when i was.
he was on the court for 23 years. i expect to stay at least as long as justice brandeis. now, i am about two years past that. charlie: what is the new standard? justice ginsberg: so now, my answer is, i will remain in this good job as long as i can do it full steam. charlie: and we hope for a long time. [applause] but you are 85. --ther justice is it what 79, 80? 79, i think. donald trump may have the chance, may -- you just keep up that exercise.
[laughter] justice ginsberg: justice breyer is also using my workout. charlie: the future of the country is in brian johnson's hands. you go out and buy that book. as long as you feel if you are doing this job that president clinton asked you to do, you will be right there on that supreme court. like justiceerg: john paul stevens, who stepped down when he was 90. charlie: you have five years, at least. that will take you through another presidential election. [applause] justice ginsberg: he was swift in getting out his opinion. since he stepped down from the court, he has published two books and is well on his way to completing his third.
charlie: listen, i am with you. for goodness sake, i am with you. i think the word retirement is an awful word. justice souter who has left the courts and is still alive said, the first year of court is like walking into a title wave -- tidal wave. did you feel any of that? justice ginsberg: i had the advantage of serving not only in it federal court, but in washington, d.c. it is just a few locks down. charlie: it was the breeding ground for supreme court justices. justice ginsberg: thomas, justice scalia and i were all from there. charlie: throughout history it has been an important place. justice ginsberg: yes, because it is the one u.s. court of appeals that has a nationwide
draw. after the civil war lincoln , disbanded what was the then court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit because he thought that they were all southern sympathizers. why, he said, should the court of appeals in the nation's capital have a bunch of southerners? the draw should be from across the country. the d.c. circuit is the one circuit where a nominee can come -- nominees can come from any place. the other circuits, the regional fromits, the nominees come those areas, that state. great prideyou take in the supreme court in terms of decisions on marriage equality? justice ginsberg: do i take great pride? it is the court doing the job that the constitution decided.
[applause] charlie: you know what i am asking. this was something you believed in. the issues presented by that case spoke to your own philosophy of the individual. justice ginsberg: the case never would have come out the way it did if people, every day people, did not begin to care. and i think the change came about because gay people who were once in the closet, afraid to say who they were, came out of the closet and said, this is who i am, and i proud of it. around, andlooked who were they? they were our next-door neighbor, our child's best friend. -they that hast we
plagued racial discrimination where people live in areas that are segregated, even today. that did not exist. once people were willing to say this is who i am and i am proud of that -- if that had never happened, we never would have seen this. justice ginsberg: the court is never in the vanguard of change, people have to change. when chief justice rehnquist engaged woman as his administrative assistant who was it, hern, open about partner came to court functions, and that was part of the signal that things were really changing. attitudes were changing in the country. charlie: when you look forward to -- what brings you great
satisfaction beyond the law beyond sitting on the court and , beyond family? you have made the case and the statement more than once that you have the great pleasure of being married to a man and being of a conviction yourself that you could have a great job and have a great family, have great children. you did not have to make sacrifices for any of those things to have a complete life. i am very sadrg: when i hear people say, to climb to the top of the tree in the , you have toion relinquish home and family life. i wonder at that. first woman appointed to the supreme court, sandra day o'connor, has three sons. i have two children.
it should not be any less possible for a woman than a man. but, it takes a sympathetic partner. it takes a partner who thinks that what you do is as important as what he does. that?e: and marty thought justice ginsberg: he was extraordinary in that way. he had such complete confidence in himself that he thought if i , want to spend my life with her she has to be pretty terrific. [laughter] charlie: he was a pretty good tax lawyer, too, was in the? justice ginsberg: yes, the best in america. [laughter] [applause] charlie: you are not the only person who thought that. theice ginsberg: marty is supreme chef. he has the best selling book in the supreme court gift shop.
isrlie: " supreme chef," that what he titled it? justice ginsberg: yes, his recipes. he was very popular with the supreme court spouses. they met quarterly for lunch. they rotated catering responsibilities. marty was always the number one pick to be the caterer. [laughter] charlie: it just goes on and on. [laughter] i have been in her office. when you were given an honorary degree at columbia, was at columbia? and you were saying -- sang to, -- was that at columbia? tell the story. justice ginsberg: that was a
serenade. i have the list of honorary -- honorees. charlie: this is the one because -- the one they gave you because you had refused to be given a degree from the law school and insisted it had to be the entire university. the university capitulated and gave you an honorary degree and among that -- justice ginsberg: she was supposed to give me the degree i should have gotten. the one i spent two years at harvard for. i know i am going to sydney next to -- because they had us arranged in alphabetical order. i had no idea he was going to get up and serenade me. the students had written lyrics to celeste aida.
you may have seen that picture in my chambers. you could call it woman in ecstasy. [laughter] was it him, or the music that did it for you? justice ginsberg: to be so close to that magnificent -- charlie: voice. [laughter] justice ginsberg: it was like an electric current. [laughter] charlie: really? electric current to that ran through your body? my goodness. he probably felt the same thing, i assume. that is what we call magic. it was a magical moment. charlie: you have to treasure those moments. but you have said, your husband marty, i betray no secret in reporting. i betray no--
secret in reporting that without marty, i would not have gained a seat on the supreme court. you said that. justice ginsberg: yes. kind of lifeas the he enabled you to live's you could be the person you wanted to be. justice ginsberg: yes, and he was remarkable. , in the 1950'ses i went to cornell university. they had a 4-1 ratio. four men to every woman. it was a favorite school for parents of daughters because you could not find her man at cornell, you are hopeless. [laughter] charlie: we are just getting warmed up, boys and girls. i have nevererg: met a boy who cared that i had a -- cared at all that i had a brain. that is not what they were interested in. marty, he loved --
charlie: at first sight? justice ginsberg: at first sight? not exactly. [laughter] charlie: but it is a gift to have a long and great marriage. justice ginsberg: 56 years. charlie: he died in 2010? justice ginsberg: yes. but he really cheated death, because he had a vision of cancer when he was a young man in his third year of law school. charlie: after having done this so long with great pride of having come here to this place, this auditorium, it is with great pride that i come here this evening as we celebrate one , of our own. a new yorker who has made us all proud. please join me in thanking justice ruth bader ginsburg. [applause] ♪