tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations Bloomberg September 27, 2020 7:00am-7:30am EDT
you had job offers. for 13 years, did you think you had a chance to be on the supreme court? when you first got on the court, whether other justices saying we are happy to see her? justice ginsburg: the most welcoming. give me some very good advice. >> would you fix your type please? david: people wouldn't recognize me as my tie was fixed.
i don't consider myself a journalist. and nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interviewer, even though i have a day job of running a private equity firm. how do you define leadership? what is it that makes somebody tick? when you went to cornell, your grades were very good. you got into harvard law school. was the class half women and half men? [laughter] went to lawburg: i school from 1956 to 1959. over 500 in the class. us were women.
were five women in the class. today, harvard law school, it is about 50% women. [applause] david: in your harvard law school class you did extremely well and got onto the harvard lot review and were near the top of your class. when your husband he to move to new york, you wanted to transfer to columbia law school. the dean of the harvard law school did not think that was such a great idea if you want to be a harvard graduate. is that correct? -- the ginsburg: he said reason i did not was marty was diagnosed with a testicular tumor in his third year of law school. days, therehe early
was no such thing as chemotherapy. there was only radiation. they did not know whether he would survive. i did not want to be a single mom. my daughter was 14 months when i started law school. we wanted to stay together as a family. he had a good job with a firm in new york. be an easyt would answer. complete my education there, could i have a harvard degree. absently not. there was a cornell classmate of mine who had her first year of law school at penn. she transferred into our second
year class and i said to the her second and third year and earn a harvard degree. understoodrsally that the first year of law school is by far the most important. she has your two and three, i have your one and two, it should make no difference. . was told david: you went to columbia law school and your law degree is from columbia. you went extremely well at columbia. justice ginsburg: yes. david: harvard lot and columbia law review, you were flooded with job offers from major firms? [laughter] justice ginsburg: there wasn't a single firm in the entire city of new york.
i had three strikes against me. one, i was jewish. the wall street firms were just -- and i was a woman. i was a mother. oldaughter was four years when i graduated from law school. david: one of your law after manygot you efforts. was that easy to do for him? because you were a mother? justice ginsburg: he had no qualms about a woman, he had a woman as a worker before. he was concerned. the southern district of new
york is a busy court and sometimes. out about this years later, i did not know what the time. chance and if she does not work out, there is a who will in the class be at the firm. he can jump in and take over. those were the terms. if you don't give her a chance, i will never recommend another columbia student. was, getting the first job. david: after your clerkship, you had a position as a law professor at rutgers. justice ginsburg: yes.
i interviewed while i was working for the columbia project on international procedure. david: how did you get connected to the aclu and your trailblazing efforts in gender discrimination and gender law? justice ginsburg: students at a course onwanted women and law. inside of a month, i had read every decision ever written about gender-based discrimination in the law. time, new complaints were coming into the new jersey affiliate of the aclu, complaints at the time the aclu had not seen before. were public school
teachers. on so-called maternity leave. when their pregnancy began to show. because the school district theied, you don't want students to think their teacher swallowed a watermelon. leave was unpaid and there was no guaranteed right to return. so thegan to complain, aboutts wanting to learn status under the law and new complaint and's coming to the aclu. for me, it was such a tremendous struggle and good fortune. thentil the start of
1970's, it simply was not possible to move in the direction of recognizing women as people. of equal citizenship stature. david: when president clinton became president, you were obviously somebody being considered. president clinton said, women don't want her. justice ginsburg: i had written a comment on roe v. wade and it was not 100% supporting a decision. ♪
david: you won a number of cases for the aclu on gender discrimination and became quite well known, you later taught at columbia. you are asked to go on to the u.s. court of appeals, the district of columbia, by president carter. were you surprised to get that appointment? did you want to be a judge or were you happy to be a professor? justice ginsburg: president carter deserves enormous credit for what the federal bench looks like today.
when he became president, he noticed that the federal judges all looked like him, that is they were all white and they were all men. and carter appreciated that somehow, that wasn't the way the united states looked, so he was determined to put women and members of minority groups on the federal courts in numbers, not just one at a time as curiosities. i think he appointed over 20 women to district court judge ships and 11 to courts of appeals. i think i was the last of them. david: you served 13 years on the court of appeals for the district of columbia, and after 13 years did you think you had a chance to be on the supreme court, or did you think this was something that might never happen? justice ginsburg: no one thinks,
my aim in life is to be a supreme court justice. it is not realistic. there are only nine of us. luck has a lot to do with who are they, the particular nine in a particular time. growing up, i never had an idea of being any kind of a judge. as i said, women were barely there on the bench. when carter became president, there was only one woman on a federal court of appeals. he made her the first ever secretary of education and then -- carter changed that, and no other president ever went back to the way it was. reagan did not want to be outdone by carter, so he was determined to put the first woman on the u.s. supreme court.
he did a nationwide search and decided on sandra day
o'connor. david: when president clinton president -- became president, you were obviously somebody being considered, and then president clinton talked to someone who was pushing for your appointment, daniel patrick moynihan. president clinton said, women don't want her. how could that have been the case when you are the leading lawyer in gender discrimination? why would women or some women not have wanted you on the supreme court? justice ginsburg: a number of women overwhelmingly supported my nomination, but i had written a comment on roe v. wade, and it was not 100% supporting that decision.
what i said was, the court has an easy target
because the texas law was the most extreme in the nation. an abortion could be had only if necessary to save the woman's life. i thought roe v. wade was an easy case in the supreme court, and it could have held that the most extreme were unconstitutional and put down its pen. instead, the court made an opinion that made every abortion restriction in the country illegal in one fell swoop. and that was not the way the court ordinarily operates. it waits for the next case and the next case.
anyway, they felt i should have been 100% in favor of roe v. wade, and i wasn't. david: president clinton met with you, he had a good meeting, and he offered you the appointment. the confirmation went pretty well, wouldn't you say? justice ginsburg: 96-3? yes, i would say that. [laughter] [applause] david: you have now been on the court for 26 years, and in total you have been on the federal judiciary for 39 years. 26 years on the supreme court. when you first got on the court, were there other justices saying, we are happy to see you here, let's have dinner together, let's socialize, or where they standoffish a bit? what was your relationship with sandra day o'connor like when you got on the court as the second woman on the court?
justice ginsburg: it was not unknown territory to me. i worked at the court of appeals, a few blocks down the road. every once in a while, judge david babylon, who was quite senior, would call me and say, ruth, we are going out for lunch. it was the biggest liquor distributor in the d.c. area. before we went to the warehouse, we would stop at the supreme court and pick up justice brennan and justice marshall. i knew justice scalia from our court of appeals days together. i knew justice clarence thomas. he was also on the d.c. circuit. sandra was as close as i came to having a big sister.
i did have a big sister, but she died in my infancy, so i never knew her. justice o'connor was the most welcoming, gave me some very good advice, not only when i was a new justice, but during my first cancer bout. because justice o'connor had breast cancer. she was on the bench nine days after her cancer surgery. david: wow. justice ginsburg: so she was really clear about what i have to do. she said ruth, you have your chemotherapy on friday. you will get over it during the weekend and you can come back. [laughter] david: now, the best way to win a case if you are arguing one before the supreme court is to
brief, to be a great oral advocate -- does the oral argument make a difference or does the brief make a difference? what is the best way to win a case in this court for someone who might want to argue a case? justice ginsburg: if you have a case that is strong on the merits. it is not a debate. of the two components, the brief is by far the most important. it is what we start with and what we end up with when we go back to chambers. oral argument is fleeting. david: if someone wants to be a supreme court clerk, do you send in a letter applying, or how does that work? justice ginsburg: we get hundreds and hundreds of applications. ♪
david: so the court meets from october to june, more or less. so what do the justices do in july and august? do they sit around reading briefs, or do they do other things? justice ginsburg: one business that follows us all over the world throughout the year is the death penalty business, which the court treats like a firing squad. very often, when an execution date is set, there is an 11th hour application for a stay. no one justice is responsible for the final vote. we are all polled wherever we are in the world.
but in addition, most of us take some time off to teach. david: today, when you are thinking about the court, what is it that gives you the greatest hope for the future about the court and the way it works? justice ginsburg: i think all of us revere the institution for which we work, and we want to leave it in as good shape as we found it. david: if somebody wants to be a supreme court clerk -- each justice gets four clerks. do you send in a letter applying, or how does that work? [laughter] justice ginsburg: we get hundreds and hundreds of applications. my best source for law clerks are other judges, other federal judges. they tend to write glowing letters of recommendation.
everyone is the best and brightest student that never graduated from that law school. but my colleagues on other federal courts will tell me the straight story, so very often i will get a call from another federal judge, saying, i have a clerk this year who i think would be just right for you. those are my best recommendations. david: we have a few questions from people who are attending today. if you could change one thing about the constitution, what would it be and why? if you were a founding father, founding mother, what might you have put in the constitution that did not quite get in there? justice ginsburg: i would add an equal rights amendment to it. [applause]
justice ginsburg: [inaudible] when i take out my pocket constitution to show my granddaughters, i can show them the first amendment that guarantees freedom of speech and the press, but i can't point to anything. -- i can't point anything that says women and men are persons of equal citizenship stature. every constitution in the world written since 1950 has the equivalent of that statement -- men and women are equal in stature before the law. i would like my grandchild to have a constitution that includes that statement. this is a fundamental premise of our society.
that is the way freedom is expressed. david: what gives you the most hope for the future? justice ginsburg: my granddaughters. [applause] david: ok. justice ginsburg: i am very proud of my eldest granddaughter, who is a lawyer. cares a great deal about our country and its highest values. and other young people like her, i think. it will help us get back on track. [applause] david: ok. what do you think is the biggest threat to our democracy? [laughter] justice ginsburg: a public that
doesn't care about preserving the rights we have. you know that great speech on liberty? he said if the fire dies in the hearts of people, there is no constitution and nothing that can restore it. so my faith is in the spirit of liberty. david: when you go to a restaurant these days, can you actually have dinner without a selfie request or people coming up for autographs? is it possible for you to do that anymore? justice ginsburg: it's amazing. i am 86.5 years old and everyone wants to take a picture with me. [applause] david: justice ginsburg, i want to thank you for an amazing conversation. thank you. [applause]
kevin: with election day quick approaching and they pandemic in --l force, millan bowed mail-in voting is more contentious than ever. issue. is not a partisan we have michael adams in kentucky who says vote by mail is the safest way to vote. kevin: as uncertainty starts to worry investors. officialstration continue to encourage and person voting across the nation. >> people are proud to show up and go to the polls. kevin: