Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg | NYT News
Lawyer Ekaterina Mishina – on the importance of the figure of Ruth Ginsburg in American and world history
Last Friday at the age of 87, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, who was called an icon of American liberalism and feminism, passed away. Yekaterina Mishina, an independent expert on constitutional law, lecturer at the Free University, spoke in an interview with the Voice of America about what the Ginzburg phenomenon is, what was unique about her personality and whether there are figures comparable in scale in the post-Soviet space.
Ksenia Turkova: As soon as it became known about the departure of Ruth Ginsburg, people began to gather at the building of the Supreme Court, and they came directly with whole families, with children, to honor her memory. It’s hard to imagine such a thing in Russia. Such respect and such popular love for a judge is associated with a specific person or it speaks of the trust of Americans in the judicial system as a whole.?
Ekaterina Mishina: This is due to both the trust in the system and the prestige of the judicial profession in the United States. Being a judge in America is the pinnacle of a legal career. I graduated from the law faculty of Moscow State University in 1987, and this was one of the last years when there was state distribution. And then no one wanted to go to the judge. Although the work of a judge then, at the end of the Soviet Union, assumed an impressive package of benefits that representatives of other legal professions did not receive. But the very prestige of the judicial profession was extremely low. And now, unfortunately, at the end of the third decade of judicial reform in Russia, there are still a lot of areas where not just little has been done, but criminally little. And in some areas there are vivid signs of judicial counter-reform, that is, a retreat back, not forward movement. What is there to talk about? In 2018, there were 0.24% of acquittals in the Russian Federation! This is, in principle, within the statistical error..
In Russia, unfortunately, the profession of a judge – both before the revolution and after – has never simply been prestigious, it has not been respected. Look at the images of judges that were created in the works of great Russian writers. What can we say about the post-revolutionary judges! There is a famous letter from Lenin, in which he writes that judges should not only use terror, but give this terror a political justification. Agree, there is no need to count on the fact that after this the judge will be loved by someone. And, unfortunately, the Soviet judicial mentality, which developed during the years of Soviet power, not only did not disappear after the collapse of the USSR, it persists.
K.T .: By the way, with her biography, she also breaks down the stereotypical notion that feminists are “against men.” Thanks to her decision, divorced fathers who stayed with their children received the right to alimony. That is, she also protected men..
EAT.: Absolutely right! By all her actions, she helped to correctly understand the often distorted acute issues of our time. Now we live in such an interesting time that you no longer know where to turn your head – now the coronavirus, then something else, international events are happening … What Ruth Ginsberg did was very balanced, very correct. I read many comments after the information about her death appeared, and so one lawyer said that she was very predictable. She was very predictable because she was very consistent. She consistently defended her rights: all women are grateful to her, to her are grateful to people who until 2015 did not have the opportunity to enter into a same-sex marriage, she is grateful to illegal immigrants, whose children, imported into the country at a very young age, at some point were put in front of a real the threat of deportation because their parents entered the United States illegally. Ruth Ginsburg is a woman who, with every step, with her whole life, has shown that it is possible to take place simultaneously in a profession, in a family and in activities aimed at the benefit of society. And she proved that you can succeed in all these areas equally well..
Moreover, the beginning of her professional career came at a time when a woman lawyer was something very unpopular. When she was in law school, there were very few female students. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, when he was offered the candidacy of Ruth Ginsburg for the position of clerk (and a clerk is a very good starting position for a lawyer in the United States), said: “You know, no, I can’t, I would have a different gender, but I I will not tolerate “.
I also want to emphasize that Ruth Ginsburg is a Jew from Brooklyn, and no one has canceled anti-Semitism. Do you know when the first Jews appeared on the Supreme Court? In 1916. Louis Brandyce, who was appointed to this position by President Woodrow Wilson. And it was a huge achievement. By the way, Brandyce, when his candidacy was discussed, received the same reproaches that Ruth Ginsburg later received – that he was too independent, too incorruptible and too progressive, so it was extremely difficult to deal with him.
Ruth Ginsburg, too, could not turn away from the path she had chosen – the path of protecting the rights of women, minorities and migrants..
I would like to note one more unique feature – the blessed memory of Ruth Ginsburg. Now we have practically lost the possibility of constructive dialogue with political opponents. So, the famous conservative, Judge Antonin Scalia, who is absolutely ideologically opposite to Judge Ginzburg, was her very close friend. They were great friends and worked together very constructively. This is another example of her unique personality traits – she was able to raise professional and personal above political preferences..
K.T.: Is there a figure in Russia with which it could be compared?
EAT.: I can compare Ruth Ginzburg with the great Russian woman – Tamara Georgievna Morschakova. She does other things, of course, because when she became a judge of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, gender issues, issues of same-sex marriage and illegal immigrants were not the main ones on the agenda of post-Soviet Russia. But Tamara Morshchakova is a consistent defender of the principle of the independence of the judiciary, she made a huge contribution to the promotion of this idea, and I believe that these are figures of comparable importance, even on a global scale. By the way, they even look somewhat similar! It seems to me that every country should have its own Ruth Ginsberg, then the people of this country have something to hope for.
Journalist, TV and radio host, philologist. She started as a correspondent and presenter on NTV under the direction of Evgeny Kiselev, worked on TV6, TVS, REN TV, radio stations Echo Moskvy, City FM, Kommersant FM. From 2013 to 2017, she lived and worked in Kiev, participated in the creation of the information radio station Radio Vesti, directed the Russian-language broadcasting of the Ukrainian channel Hromadske TV, was a host and executive producer. Since 2017 works for Voice of America in Washington DC.