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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at age 87

  • September 19, 2020

Some of her most memorable opinions were dissents. Among them:

Gonzales v. Carhart, in which the court in 2007 upheld Congress’ Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Opponents of the ban contended that the procedure, also known as “intact dilation and extraction,” was the safest way to avoid damaging a woman’s uterus when ending a late-term pregnancy. It was the first time the court had banned a specific abortion method and the first time it did not include an exception for the woman’s health, according to The Washington Post.

Writing for the majority in the 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy said Congress may regulate an area where doctors have not reached a consensus about the necessity of the procedure in protecting the woman’s health. “Respondents have not demonstrated that the Act, as a facial matter, is void for vagueness, or that it imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion based on its overbreadth or lack of a health exception,” he wrote.

In her dissent, Ginsburg wrote that the majority ruling “tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”

“In candor, the Act, and the Court’s defense of it, cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court — and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women’s lives.”

She added: “The court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety. This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited.”

She also was among the four-justice minority in the 2007 Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Rubber Co., and she took the rare step of reading her dissent from the bench. The majority ruled against Lilly Ledbetter in her claim of unequal pay because of her sex. As an area manager, Ledbetter was paid $3,727 per month compared with $4,286 for the lowest paid male counterpart.

The majority on the court did not rule on the merits of Ledbetter’s claim made under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The five justices rejected it on grounds that it was filed too long from the time the original decision was made about her pay.

Citing the often secret nature of salary levels, Ginsburg said: “In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.”

The ball is in Congress’ court … to correct this Court’s parsimonious reading of Title VII,” she wrote.

Two years later, Congress took such action, passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which said each discriminatory paycheck resets the 180-day limit to file a claim. It was the first law signed by Obama. Ginsburg kept a framed copy of the 2009 law on a wall in her chambers.

Article source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/18/justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg-has-died.html

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