Ruth Bader Ginsburg = Awesome

From Jeffrey Toobin’s book The Nine:

Ginsburg was hardly a radical, and she became famous for canny strategy by litigation jujitsu. Her goal, of course, was to end the discrimination that was then pervasive against women, but she needed a way to dramatize the issue in front of judges who were invariably male.

So Ginsburg looked for cases where laws reflecting gender stereotypes actually penalized men, not women. In one, husbands of military officers had to prove that they were “dependent” spouses to receive certain benefits. In another, Oklahoma law allowed young women between the ages of eighteen and twenty to buy near beer, while men of the same age could not. The Supreme Court struck down the provisions in both cases, ruling that laws could not survive if they were based solely on stereotypes and assumptions about gender differences. These cases, which nominally benefited men, led to the downfall of many more laws that penalized women.

We’ve made progress, but it always helps to remember that stereotyping hurts everyone. There is much work left to do.


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