Women's rights have seen some serious hits this summer courtesy of the Supreme Court. The second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court and longtime women's rights supporter Ruth Bader Ginsburg (fondly known on the internet as Notorious RBG) said in an interview with Katie Couric this week that she believes her male counterparts on the bench have a bit of a 'blind spot' when it comes to women's rights.
While RBG voted in favor of the (unanimous) Masschusetts buffer zone ruling, she voted against the latest hit for women, the much talked about Hobby Lobby decision (along with SCOTUS's two other female justices, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor). Ginsburg penned a 35-page dissent that Couric called "scathing" in the interview. Ginsburg speaks about the gravity of the court's decision, and the effects that this limitation on health care could have on women employed by companies like Hobby Lobby. "Contraception is something that every woman must have access to to control her own destiny," Ginsburg says. While Ginsburg says she respects the beliefs of the Hobby Lobby owners, "They have no right to foist that belief on the hundreds of women who work for them who don't share that belief." Ginsburg added that this was the first time she had ever seen the "freedom of religion" clause of the Constitution interpreted in that way. To critics of Ginsburg's opinion, who claim that asking Hobby Lobby, a private company, to abide by something that is against their deeply held religious beliefs is unjust, she says: "When you're part of a society, you can't separate yourself from the obligations that citizens have."
This isn't the first time Ginsburg has dissented from her male colleagues on a decision that affects women—one of the most memorable instances was the Lilly Ledbetter decision, which dealt with equal pay rights. The law was signed into law by President Obama after Ginsburg passed the decision along to Congress when the Supreme Court ruled against Ledbetter. Today, Ginsburg counts it as one of the proudest achievements of her decades long tenure as a SCOTUS justice.
For RBG, all hope is not lost, when it comes to the male justices. While those who voted in the majority in cases like Hobby Lobby or Lilly Ledbetter may be unable to understand the necessity of things like equal pay and access to contraception today, she is hopeful that they will come to learn in the future. "Justices continue to think and can change, so I am every hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow," she says. She also added that the women in their lives could have the potential to change their minds. "They have wives, they have daughters."
Couric's interview with the Justice wasn't all serious. Ginsburg showed Couric her substantial collection of collars, and explained what they meant: dark for dissenting, bright and yellow for majority, as well as her favorite white beaded collar from South Africa. After discussing Ginsburg's insights about the recent Supreme Court decisions dominating the conversation, they went on to chat about her recent status as an internet meme that's spawned t-shirts, rap songs, cartoon drawings, and of course, a Tumblr: Notorious RBG, which Ginsburg says she finds hilarious—after her law clerks explained to her what it meant.
Watch the full interview with Couric and Justice Ginsburg below.
Photo via NotoriousRBG.tumblr.com