Raising the Bar: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ACLU Women's Rights Project

By Campbell, Amy Leigh | Texas Journal of Women and the Law, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Raising the Bar: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ACLU Women's Rights Project


Campbell, Amy Leigh, Texas Journal of Women and the Law


I. Introduction

This article will define the contribution of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to American constitutional law through her efforts as professor, lawyer, and women's rights advocate. The research focuses primarily on the years 1971 to 1980, during which time Ginsburg founded and was general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights Project. Although her activities covered a broad range during those years, the concentration is on the litigation strategies she developed and employed in her roles as amicus curiae (hereinafter amicus), co-counsel, and lead counsel before the United States Supreme Court. From 1971 to 1980, Ginsburg participated in thirty-four cases. The majority of these are explored herein, with landmark cases examined in greater detail. The construction of the briefs in early cases is explored in particular detail as these arguments illustrate the unique intellectual analysis Ginsburg incorporated into her successful litigation strategy. Her method of taking extra-legal factors into account in her legal arguments is a hallmark of her strategy. In addition, her keen instinct, combined with meticulous research and preparation, allowed her to target the justices psychologically.

The primary source of information for this article was archival research conducted using the private papers of now Justice Ginsburg. The collection was donated in September 1998 and is housed in the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress. The collection spans the years 1946 to 1992, with the bulk concentrated in the period 1972 to 1980. The majority of the collection consists of papers documenting Ginsburg's work as an advocate for women's rights, particularly through her speeches, writings, and other documentation of her efforts as general counsel to the Women's Rights Project.

The papers comprise three categories: the American Civil Liberties Union file, the Speeches and Writings file, and the Miscellany file. The ACLU file, covering 1967 to 1980, composes nearly half the collection. The files include correspondence and memoranda, primarily between Ginsburg and clients, lawyers, clerks, and ACLU colleagues, as well as an array of legal papers such as opinions, orders, briefs, and motions. The Speeches and Writings file, spanning 1967 to 1980, consists chiefly of Ginsburg's speeches and articles. The speeches fall into two main categories. Those in the first set were delivered at conferences and meetings of women's rights groups and provide an interesting look at how Ginsburg viewed the progress of her litigation strategy. The speeches in the second set document Ginsburg's effort as a proponent for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and include various statements before numerous state legislatures during the ratification period. The Miscellany file, covering 1946 to 1992, includes a truly miscellaneous collection of notes on ERA advocacy strategy, drafts of academic papers, and personal correspondence.

Secondary sources for this article included books and articles about judicial decision making and strategic interaction on the Supreme Court. This information was valuable in determining what was publicly known about the Justices' preferences when cases arrived at the Supreme Court. This created an avenue for speculation about the factors Ginsburg considered in formulating her litigation strategy. For example, in The Choices Justices Make,1 Lee Epstein and Jack Knight detail Justice Brennan's strategic actions in writing the opinion for the Court in Frontiero v. Richardson.2 Memoranda and correspondence between Ginsburg and fellow counsel on cases suggest that she tailored her oral arguments to specific Justices. In several cases, she was in direct contact with Supreme Court clerks and exchanged information with such individuals about the inner workings of the Court. This is not to suggest that Ginsburg was privy to confidential information or engaged in improper activity-rather that she benefited from a collegial relationship with Court clerks in crafting her strategy.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Raising the Bar: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ACLU Women's Rights Project
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.