BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday advised young women to fight for things they care about, but to do so in a way that inspires others to join their cause.
“Young women today have a great advantage, and it is that there are no more closed doors,” the 82-year-old justice said in a speech at Harvard University, in Cambridge. “That was basically what the 70s was all about. Opening doors that had been closed to women.”
Ginsburg, once a prominent women’s rights lawyer and now the oldest active justice on the nation’s highest court, spoke at an outdoor luncheon at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The institute gave her the Radcliffe Medal, which is awarded annually to an individual who has had a “transformative impact” on society.
Ginsburg “knocked on closed doors, opened them and then held them open for others,” Lizabeth Cohen, dean of the institute, said in her introductions.
Ginsburg, in a conversation with former Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan, reflected on her work on landmark women’s rights cases.
The Brooklyn native rose to prominence in the 1970s arguing a number of cases dealing with gender discrimination before the U.S. Supreme Court as an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer.
“The object was to get at a stereotype that held women back from doing whatever their talent would allow them to do,” she said. “The notion was that there were separate spheres for the sexes. Men were the doers in the world and women were the stay-at-home types.”
Ginsburg said she also looks forward to seeing “Scalia/Ginsburg,” a comedic opera based on her epic legal battles with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a longtime friend and fellow opera enthusiast.
The opera is reflective of the pop culture notoriety she’s received in recent years.
Justice Ginsburg outfits are popular Halloween costumes for babies and a Tumblr page in her honor is called Notorious R.B.G., a reference to another famous Brooklynite – the late rapper The Notorious B.I.G.
Ginsburg, who attended Harvard Law School before transferring to Columbia Law School, has served on the court since 1993 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. She became the second woman on the court, after Sandra Day O’Connor, and its first Jewish female justice.
Radcliffe College was the all-women’s counterpart for the once all-male Harvard College. It was fully merged with the university in 1999 and became the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.
This story has been corrected to show that Ginsburg attended Harvard Law School but did not graduate from there.
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