tv Obit 1 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Court Tour and Interview CSPAN September 19, 2020 1:00pm-1:42pm EDT
>> justice ruth bader ginsburg was born in new york in 1933. after graduating from cornell university, she enrolled at harvard law school where her husband also attended. after he graduated, they moved to new york city where she attended columbia law school and graduated first in her class in 1959. next on c-span, justice ginsburg giving a tour of her chambers on the second-floor of the supreme court building. she talks about her family and career before coming to the court and her friendship with justice antonin scalia.
>> that picture was taken in october of 1993. it is traditional when a new justice comes on board, for the justice welcome the new at the bottom of the stairs. down the from the door stairs together. he greets me, and then we go back into the court together. inwhat is your philosophy your office? there are a lot of pictures in here. i have two paintings from the
fivenal gallery and about from the museum of american art with paintersion all from the united states from 1920 into the 1930's. >> which one in here is your favorite? >> my favorite is in the outer room. it is called "infinity." it looks like a figure eight. >> what is the one behind your desk? >> these are the two from the national gallery. my number one favorites of the items from the museum of american art. >> talk about these photos over
here. tell us about any one that comes to mind. photo, we are taking part in the washington national opera production. we were extras. scene. the ball guests of welcomes various kinds. so, he welcomes the ambassador of russia, the ambassador of hungary, and then, he greeted the three supremes, and we marched onto the stage and sat there for the rest of the act and watched the show. those? about >> they were given to me by
various people. they all have instructions -- inscriptions. taken ina photograph 1978. i were marshall and judging moot court at berkeley law school. and it is one of my fondest remembrances. he was still in very good health. >> when you work in an office like this, what atmosphere do you want? does it matter to you where you are when you do your writing and thinking? >> i like to be in a quiet space. chambers, all of them were inside chambers. now i have two in that office
and two down the hall. but i like a quiet place. i am glad to be overlooking the courtyard and not the front of the building, so i am not disturbed by demonstrators. >> what are these masks right here? >> these masks are from my first trip to china which was in 1978 barely set up for tourists. someone gave me this set of masks while i was there. photos?about the there is a whole series of them back here. those are alsog: from the 1978 trip to china. i was with the first american bar association delegation to visit china at the request of the government -- their government. and i was most fortunate because i was the only woman on the
delegation. china was not well set up for , so i had a room of my own throughout. gentlemeninguished had to double up. this is the same photograph that was on my book cart. >> right next to that is a photograph of the senator. justice ginsburg: that was taken also in 1993 when i was the new justice. example of how relative most things are. if you ask me, and my short -- and i short? i would say, yes, compared to chief justice rehnquist. mccluskey, ienator am a giant. >> this desk, is that your
personal selection and where did you get it? justice ginsburg: this desk is made here at the court. all of the chambers have similar desks. the variation in these chambers top on the granite desk, as i have at the worktable. >> what kind of books do you keep on the shelf in front of you? justice ginsburg: books i consult most often. those them in two places, and also on this cart will be books to which i refer. >> what would be the book you refer to the most? justice ginsburg: it would be a tossup between these two. is "federal courts,
seventh edition." andy constitutional law casebook by kathleen sullivan, but for guntherrs gerald produced this book by himself s ago whenedition kathleen sullivan joined him. now she is carrying on the work. alls it the book that judges and justices would have in their office? justice ginsburg: they would certainly have some constitutional law references. i don't know that they would all choose the same one. this is one of the finest casebooks in all of law school. and gerald gunther was my teacher at columbia and my good
friend ever after. >> what do you remember most about him? brilliancesburg: his and humanity. have on the other site of your desk, you have kind of eight president -- a president'' corner. how many presidents have you known? justice ginsburg: we start with jimmy carter, who gave me my first good job in this capital city. photograph that should be seen in association with this one. when jimmy carter became president, there was only one woman on a federal appellate bench in the entire country. and jimmy carter was determined to change the complexion of the
u.s. judiciary. photograph that shows president carter in october of when he may have sensed he would lose the election, but he held a reception for women he appointed to the bench and said he hoped he would be remembered for changing the face of the for appointing women and members of minority groups in members. he chose people of the very best quality. after he set that pattern, no president ever retreated from it until president reagan was president to be the who appointed the first woman to this court. he did, and he made a splendid choice in justice sandra day o'connor. but it is jimmy carter who
judiciarye federal should draw on the talent of all the people of the great united states and not just some of them. >> what did you do in his administration? theice ginsburg: i was on road -- before that, i had been a law teacher for 17 years. >> one of the things you talk about is the fact that you were before the court representing the aclu. justice ginsburg: representing a client that was supported by the aclu. >> before we go back to some of the presidents, what is the difference between standing in front of the court and being on the others? justice ginsburg: the difference is, on the other side, you ask the questions.
and being a counselor at the podium, you answer. >> from your own experience standing before the court, have you treated the attorneys any different because you had that experience initially? justice ginsburg: i think i have a keen understanding of what it is like to be at the receiving end of questions. that as anknow attorney, i welcomed questions from the bench. i know some lawyers regard instions as an interruption an eloquent speech they are prepared to make. but an advocate wants to know inds, soon the judges' m she will welcome questions as a way of satisfying the judge on the matter the judge might not
resolve as well without counsel's input. >> in this picture? justice ginsburg: that is my husband of 55 years, martin david ginsburg, professor. this is a typical marty pose lacks on our patio with a good book. >> one thing you have talked about is his cooking. justice ginsburg: yes, he is the master chef in our house. ago -- i was chased out of the kitchen by our loving children 30 years ago. >> does he cook for the court? justice ginsburg: he is much in demand at the luncheon the supreme court spouses have. i may be a little biased and prejudiced on this point, but i think he is by far the best cook among all the spouses.
>> are they just for the justices? justice ginsburg: just for the justices' spouses. he is the lone husband. and the wives of the justices. they also regularly invite the , so kathyjustices douglas stone and amy marshall areisses regularly at those lunches. else do you want to talk about on this table? you have bill clinton, george w. bush, his father. justice ginsburg: two more. rice'ss condoleezza swearing-in as our secretary of state.
she lived in the building where my husband and i lived. and she is an accomplished musician. we were fortunate to attend one of her musical evenings. and she called me and asked if i would administer the oath of office. i thought that was a great thing to do. it showed a bipartisan spirit. we were all proud to be servants of the usa, and it should not matter but i happen to have been by first to the bench president carter, a democrat. i thought that was a very nice gesture on her part.
>> who else is on this table that you want to talk about? justice ginsburg: let's talk about this one. one of my granddaughter, three granddaughters. fall of 1992in the when president clinton was running for office. and his wife, hillary clinton, happened that day to be visiting the nursery school attended by my then three-year-old granddaughter. they are doing the toothbrush song together. in this picture was featured in the new york post. when i saw it, i got a copy and who it to my granddaughter is now 18 and wrote on the bottom, " may you always know where to stand."
>> who is this lady right here? justice ginsburg: that is my mother. the most intelligent person i ever knew. but sadly, she died when i was 17. >> i read that she died the day before you graduated from high school. justice ginsburg: right. >> what impacted that have on you in those days -- what impact did that have on you in those days? justice ginsburg: it was one of the most trying times in my life , but i knew that she wanted me to study hard and get good grades and succeed in life. so, that is what i did. >> behind you are some more pictures. i want to ask you about this one over here. this has never been published before. justice ginsburg: yes. that is a photograph of justice scalia and me. ridee taking an elephant
laste palace of the maharaja. elegant but rather bumpy ride. >> why don't we walk around your that,o you can show us but it is often reported that you and justice scalia are good friends. justice ginsburg: yes. >> people don't understand how you could be so different in your thinking and still be friends. can you tell us how that happens? justice ginsburg: i have known justice scalia since the days he was a law professor. and i was so taken by his wit and his wonderful sense of humor . i heard a lecture that he gave. with most of what he
said but i loved the way he said it. justice scalia is a very good writer. how you say it, and he is a very amusing fellow. he set next to me on the d.c. and not this configuration but when justice o'connor was with us, i was sitting next to justice scalia. he could say something that was so outrageous and so funny that i had to pinch myself so i would not laugh out loud in the courtroom. >> so, his humor. justice ginsburg: that and because we both care about family and each other's families. >> back in here, i know you have your robes. tell us about how that works on court date. justice ginsburg: on the court
, they are kept in the robing room and we all have closets there. we enter the robing room and an attendant will help us put on our robes. up the closet, i brought ropes i use most often in court. this one, the robe is from england. the color is from cape town, larth africa -- the col is from cape town, south africa. the standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show in the time -- and the tie. so, sandra day o'connor and i thought it would be appropriate it as part of our
, something typical of a woman. i have many, many collars. this is one of my favorites. >> what is the symbolism of this being from south africa and is from england? justice ginsburg: no symbolism. this is a lord mayor's robe. it is not a judge's robe. and i saw this in a museum in cape town. >> what is the importance of a robe for a judge? justice ginsburg: i think it is a symbol of we are all in the business of impartial judging. and in the united states, i think the pattern was set by the great chief justice john judges in theaid
united states should not wear red or maroon robes. they should wear plain black. everyne's unaware, -- once in a while, not in this court, but when i judge moot court in law school, i will use this robe. one was a gift to me by the supreme people's court in china i think itin china, was in 1995. i was a guest of their highest court. they have several courts in major cities. admiredas in beijing, i the robes the judges were wearing.
by the time i got to shanghai, they had made up a robe for me and presented it to me as a gift. robe.s my chinese in canada, both the lawyers and judges wear robes. this is the standard french one. print onee it in every lawyers. québec thoughtn they should enhance it with a lovely place collar. >> tell us about the traditions around the robing room before and oral argument begins. entere ginsburg: as we the robing room or the conference room, the first thing we do is go around the room,
each justice shaking hands with every other. and that is a symbol of the work we do as a collegial body. you may be temporarily miffed because you received a spicy dissenting opinion from a colleague, but when we go to sit at eachench, we look other, shake hands, and it is a way of saying we are all in this together. institutiont this .ore than our individual egos and we are all devoted to in the the supreme court coequalat it is as a branch of government. and i think a model for the
world in the collegiality and independence of the judges. >> when you are really miffed about a decision or somebody says, what you tell yourself so you do not take it to dinner afterwards or whatever? how do you keep it nonpersonal? justice ginsburg: you think first there is another case i had -- ahead and it makes no colleague whenat i was a new court of appeals judge, when you are working on an appellate bench, you are never making decisions alone. you are always having to work with colleagues. case. your best in every but when it is over, it is over. to the next case and give it your all. that is wonderful advice. don't worry over what happened.
case.o on to the next >> you gave a speech in boston earlier in the year where you talked about the lighter side of including the musicale. explain that. justice ginsburg: justice harry blackmun who spent his summers in aspen and enjoyed the music festivals they decided we should hour whennual musical all the work is done. when we have no more court timengs, we should take out for a musical interlude that all of us can enjoy. that in 1988. initially, it was every two years. then it was once a year. now, we have it twice a year.
when justice blackmun retired, he passed the baton to justice o'connor. and for the last seven years, i have been attending to the musicale. >> where do they happen in the court and how many people can come to them? justice ginsburg: today, musicales take place in our conference room. steinway grandy pianos. accommodate not more than 200 people. toh justice can invite up six people. and then many people from the supreme court historical society .ttend .nd leaders of the court staff
>> so, a new justice comes to the court, and they come to you and sit in your office and say, tell me what i should know about this court that will make it a better experience. what do you tell them? justice ginsburg: i would say that you will be surprised by the high level of collegiality here. this term, i think we divided 5-4 and almost 1/3 of all the cases. one might get a false impression from that degree of disagreement . justice scalia once commented that in his early years on this court, there was no justice with whom he disagreed more often than justice brennan. and yet, justice scalia considered justice brennan his
best friend on the court at that time. and he thought the feeling was reciprocated. the public would not know that from reading an opinion by from scalia dissent or the other way around, but genuinelytwo men who liked each other and enjoyed each other's company. >> when you are up on the bench looking out at the court, what do you see that we don't see sitting in the court looking at you? theice ginsburg: i see magnificent proportions of the courtroom. and sometimes, i say to myself, am i really theire or is it alla dream? it is one of the most beautiful think,s -- courtrooms, i in the world. speeches, youside
talk about the lunches. where are they held and what is the atmosphere? justice ginsburg: they are held in the justices' dining room on the second floor. it is a beautiful room, very well furnished. said, isood, as i have not exactly haute cuisine. it comes from the public cafeteria. the justices eat the same thing visitors to the court might choose for lunch here. >> do you have to go to that lunch? justice ginsburg: it is not obligatory, but we generally do. i try not to miss a post argument lunch because you never know what my colleagues will be talking about. they may be talking about the case we just heard, and i would not want to be absent from that discussion so i can make my comments about it and listen to my colleagues so i will
understand what is in their minds. >> is there any symbolism to the paintings in the room of marbury in madison? justice ginsburg: marbury and madison is probably the most famous case this court ever us that and it reminds we have a responsibility given -- not given to most judges in the world called judicial review for constitutionality. we interpret statutes most of question arises under our higher statute which is the constitution of the united states. all people who serve government take an oath to support and defend the constitution, but this court has the last word on what that constitution means.
patternnot the typical in parliamentary systems where the legislature will have the the word on what fundamental instrument of government means. review for judicial constitutionality, i think, is implicit in the constitutional documents. but john marshall made it explicit in the great case of marbury against madison. >> let me ask you a couple more questions about the conference itself. explain to us that room and what happens in that conference, and who is in their? justice ginsburg: our conference room has a table where we all have a particular seat. head,ief justice at one the most senior associate
justice at the other. when wessed cases -- discuss cases, we go around the room in seniority order. will give hisice review and then we will save what we think, how it should come out, and why. >> is there an argument? justice ginsburg: generally, there is limited argument. initially, we go around the table and eat justice speaks -- each justice speaks. there will be some, but not a lot. of course, conversations. one justice or another will say after we have talked for several "it will all come out in the writing. ."t's leave this for now
and it will come out in the writing. what this court produces is an opinion of the court. you are not writing just for yourself. you are writing hopefully for and you have to take account of what they think. we don't have any observers in the conference room. no one can enter the room who is not a justice. no secretary, no law clerk, not even a message bearer. and it would look strangely old-fashioned to most people to not see a laptop in that room. notes are taken by each justice individually, by hand.
the conferences are not recorded. they are just a private conversation among the justices about the case. what the public will see eventually is an opinion with reasons. the discipline a judge follows and what makes judges unlike is that we have to give reasons for every decision we make. ofetimes in the process stating the reasons, you begin to say, am i right? did i overlook this question or that question? ad not often, but sometimes, justice will say this opinion is not right. i was wrong at the conference.
i will take the other position. that justice will notify the rest of us. and we will agree or disagree, and the justice will end up writing for the majority if we agree or for the dissent if we don't. so, the conferences are what you would see in most appellate courts in the united states, except the typical appellate bench is three and it is easier to have a conversation among three than among nine. thatou have to respect your colleagues are not there to hear a long speech from you. we speak in seniority order.
this time, i am number seven. next term, i will be number six. it is great to go first because you can tell the rest in a persuasive statement what you think of the case. but when you are on the end of the queue, you do have a certain advantage. that is, you know what the others think and you can incorporate what they have said into your own statement. -- statement about how the case should come out. >> thank you, justice ginsburg. a live look outside the supreme court where people have been gathering since hearing the