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Putting in her two dissents

The folks over at SCOTUSBlog got a hold of the text of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s speech at the 20th annual Leo and Berry Eizenstat Lecture in Atlanta Sunday, where she told the crowd what we already knew – her two dissents from the bench last term were meant not only to attract attention, but also to spur change.

In her speech about the importance of dissents in the U.S. judicial system, Ginsburg said she read her dissent from the bench in the “partial-birth” abortion case Gonzales v. Carhart to “appeal to the intelligence of a future day.”

Ginsburg said her second dissent from the bench in the employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. was aimed at lawmakers across the street from the Court. In that case, the Court’s majority held that the plaintiff’s gender discrimination case was barred by the statute of limitations, and that each new paycheck she received that was lower than those of her male counterparts did not restart the clock. She called on Congress to act.

“Several members of Congress responded within days after the Court’s decision [was]  issued,” Ginsburg said. “A corrective measure passed the House on July 31, 2007. Senator [Edward] Kennedy introduced a parallel bill, with 21 co-sponsors. The response was just what I contemplated when I wrote: ‘The ball is in Congress’ court . . . . to correct [the Supreme] Court’s parsimonious reading of Title VII.’

“But the fate of the proposed legislation has been clouded,” Ginsburg continued. “On July 27, the Administration announced that if the measure ‘were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.’”

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