Justice Ginsburg Honors Women's Rights Programs

September 24, 2013 — On September 20, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat down with NPR’s Michel Martin in a dinner conversation at the Washington Court Hotel.

The program marked the anniversaries of Georgetown Law’s Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Program (20 years) and its Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program (30 years). The event was further billed as a “sesquicentennial" — a tribute to the 50 years of the Georgetown Law programs, Ginsburg's 20 years on the Court and her 80th birthday in March.

Ginsburg noted how far women have come since she attended law school. “I’ve seen tremendous progress, and that’s why I’m an optimist for the future,” she said.

Sometimes, Ginsburg said, people ask her “when will there be enough” women on the Court. “I say, “When there are nine … why not?” 

Ginsburg also shared her thoughts on some of the Court’s 5-4 decisions including her passionate dissent in last term’s Voting Rights Act case. “The Court stopped, I think, the most effective civil rights legislation Congress ever passed,” she said.

Ginsburg closed with a charge for the young women present: “If you have a law degree, you have a skill that enables you to make things better for other people.” 

Among those celebrating WLPPFP and LAWA — following an all-day conference — were Professor and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor, WLPPFP Founder Eli Evans, Professor Emerita Wendy Williams, Dean Emerita Judy Areen and Jill Morrison, the executive director of both programs and a former WLPPFP fellow. 

Since its founding in 1983, WLPPFP has seen 242 fellows come to Washington to work on women’s rights issues; LAWA has hosted 92 women’s human rights advocates from Africa since 1993.

“We wouldn’t be here tonight without Georgetown Law … but the real inspiration was the fellows themselves, both the Americans and those from Africa,” said Evans, who named Professor Susan Deller Ross and Williams among the women key to the programs’ success. 

Associate Dean Jane Aiken helped explore the past, present and future of LAWA, following a short video. “Justice Ginsburg said … the Constitution is evolving,” Aiken said. “I think you can say that about these programs.” 

For more information on the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program, click here. For the Leadership and Advocacy for Women and Africa Program, click here.

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