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Found the interview! She talks about quite a few of the landmark cases during her tenure, as well as how certain decisions might've gone differently in different circumstances. She also talks about the Notorious RBG meme, Roe v Wade, feminism, and her workout regiment. A few quotes below.

JR: What decisions would have come out differently if Justice O'Connor were still on the Court?

RBG: She would have been with us in Citizens United, in Shelby County, probably in Hobby Lobby, too.

RBG: First, I should say, I am fantastically lucky that I am in a system without a compulsory retirement age. Most countries of the world have age sixty-five, seventy, seventy-five, and many of our states do as well. As long as I can do the job full steam, I will stay here. I think I will know when I'm no longer able to think as lucidly, to remember as well, to write as fast. I was number one last term in the speed with which opinions came down. My average from the day of argument to the day the decision was released was sixty days, ahead of the chief by some six days. So I don't think I have reached the point where I can't do the job as well.

RBG: Yes, and I'm still working out twice a week with my trainer, the same trainer I now share with Justice [Elena] Kagan. I have done that since 1999.

JR: Do you work out together?

RBG: No, she's a lot younger than I am, younger than my daughter. She does boxing, a great way to take out your frustrations.

JR: And what do you do?

RBG: I do a variety of weight-lifting, elliptical glider, stretching exercises, push-ups. And I do the Canadian Air Force exercises almost every day.

RBG: No. I was part of Jazzercise class. It was an aerobics routine accompanied by loud music, sounding quite awful to me. Jazzercise was popular in the '80s and '90s.

JR: What's the worst ruling the current Court has produced?

RBG: If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United. I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. So that's number one on my list. Number two would be the part of the health care decision that concerns the commerce clause. Since 1937, the Court has allowed Congress a very free hand in enacting social and economic legislation.8 I thought that the attempt of the Court to intrude on Congress's domain in that area had stopped by the end of the 1930s. Of course health care involves commerce. Perhaps number three would be Shelby County, involving essentially the destruction of the Voting Rights Act. That act had a voluminous legislative history. The bill extending the Voting Rights Act was passed overwhelmingly by both houses, Republicans and Democrats, everyone was on board. The Court's interference with that decision of the political branches seemed to me out of order. The Court should have respected the legislative judgment. Legislators know much more about elections than the Court does. And the same was true of Citizens United. I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed.

JR: And if Roe were overturned, how bad would the consequences be?

RBG: It would be bad for non-affluent women. If we imagine the worst-case scenario, with Roe v. Wade overruled, there would remain many states that would not go back to the way it once was. What that means is any woman who has the wherewithal to travel, to take a plane, to take a train to a state that provides access to abortion, that woman will never have a problem. It doesn't matter what Congress or the state legislatures do, there will be other states that provide this facility, and women will have access to it if they can pay for it. Women who can't pay are the only women who would be affected.

JR: So how can advocates make sure that poor women's access to reproductive choice is protected? Can legislatures be trusted or is it necessary for courts to remain vigilant?

RBG: How could you trust legislatures in view of the restrictions states are imposing? Think of the Texas legislation that would put most clinics out of business. The courts can't be trusted either. Think of the Carhart decision10 or going way back to the two decisions that denied Medicaid coverage for abortion. I don't see this as a question of courts versus legislatures. In my view, both have been moving in the wrong direction. It will take people who care about poor women. The irony and tragedy is any woman of means can have a safe abortion somewhere in the United States. But women lacking the wherewithal to travel can't. There is no big constituency out there concerned about access restrictions on poor women.

Illustration for article titled Ruth Bader Ginsberg interview: best/worst decisions, jazzercise, feminism, and more

JR: How has the dynamic on the Court changed as it has added more women?

RBG: Justice O'Connor and I were together for more than twelve years and in every one of those twelve years, sooner or later, at oral argument one lawyer or another would call me Justice O'Connor. They were accustomed to the idea that there was a woman on the Supreme Court and her name was Justice O'Connor. Sandra would often correct the attorney, she would say, "I'm Justice O'Connor, she's Justice Ginsburg." The worst times were the years I was alone. The image to the public entering the courtroom was eight men, of a certain size, and then this little woman sitting to the side. That was not a good image for the public to see.


But now, with the three of us on the bench, I am no longer lonely and my newest colleagues are not shrinking violets. Not this term but the term before, Justice Sotomayor beat out Justice Scalia as the justice who asks the most questions during argument.


JR: What's your message to the new generation of feminists who really look to you as a role model?

RBG: Work for the things that you care about. I think of the '70s, when many young women supported an Equal Rights Amendment. I was a proponent of the ERA. The women of my generation and my daughter's generation, they were very active in moving along the social change that would result in equal citizenship stature for men and women. One thing that concerns me is that today's young women don't seem to care that we have a fundamental instrument of government that makes no express statement about the equal citizenship stature of men and women. They know there are no closed doors anymore, and they may take for granted the rights that they have.

JR: What is the opinion that you've written that you think has done the most to advance civil liberties?

RBG: Oh, Jeff, that's like asking which of my four grandchildren I prefer. There have been so many. Well, in the women's rights arena, the Virginia Military Institute case. So many people said to me, "Why would women want to go to that school?" I wouldn't, and perhaps you, a man, wouldn't either, but there are women who are ready, willing, and able to undergo that form of education, so why should they be held back by artificial barriers?

There was a decision on the civil side that didn't get much press, it's called M.L.B. v. S.L.J.16 The Court's precedent was, if you are too poor to afford counsel or to afford a transcript in a felony case, the state must provide legal assistance for you. M.L.B. was a woman facing a deprivation of parental-rights proceedings. She was charged with being an unfit mother. She lost in the first instance and wanted to appeal, but the state's rule was, to appeal, you must purchase a transcript. M.L.B. didn't have funds to pay for one. It was technically a civil case, but I was able to persuade a majority of the Court that depriving a parent of parental status is as devastating as a criminal conviction. The Court decided that, if she can't get an appeal without a transcript, then the state must provide the transcript at no cost to her. That was a departure from the rigid separation of criminal cases, on the one hand, with the right to counsel paid by the state and a transcript paid by the state, and civil cases, in which you do not have those rights. You must be able to pay. I thought M.L.B. was a significant case in that regard, getting the Court to think about the impact on a woman like M.L.B. of being declared a non-parent. It is devastating, much worse than six months in jail.

JR: And for dissents, your Gonzalez v. Carhart dissent is quite memorable.

RBG: That was in a partial-birth abortion case. And there what concerned me about the Court's attitude, they were looking at the woman as not really an adult individual. The opinion said that the woman would live to regret her choice. That was not anything this Court should have thought or said. Adult women are able to make decisions about their own lives' course no less than men are. So, yes, I thought in Carhart the Court was way out of line. It was a new form of "Big Brother must protect the woman against her own weakness and immature misjudgment."


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