Hiding Behind Sex Stereotypes?

From an AP story from last week on a speech that Justice Ginsburg gave in Toledo, Ohio: “Ginsburg, now the only woman on the court after the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor, said having two women on the court brought a sense of caring and concern to the bench.” Just a few thoughts:

1. Imagine for a moment that a male justice – Scalia, for example – had made the same statement about the effect of female justices on the Court. Wouldn’t he be derided as perpetuating sexist stereotypes?

2. What basis does Ginsburg have for this observation? From the time that she joined the Court in 1993 until O’Connor’s recent resignation, there were two women on the Court. And there were likewise at least two women on the D.C. Circuit during the entirety of her 13-year tenure there. So what’s the less caring and less concerned baseline Ginsburg purports to be using? The weeks since Justice Alito joined the Court?

3. This would hardly be the first time that Ginsburg, the supposed champion of “gender equality,” has hidden behind sex stereotypes when they offer her some advantage. Ginsburg authored the Court’s 1996 opinion ruling that Virginia’s maintenance of VMI as a single-sex institution violated the Equal Protection Clause. As my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Wilfred M. McClay wrote in a Commentary magazine article (subscriber-only) on the case, Ginsburg in her opinion expresses “disdain for gender stereotypes” but “ends up employing them herself.” Specifically, she rejects VMI’s position that its “adversative” training is “inherently unsuitable” to women, but then, in a footnote, concedes that admitting women to VMI would “undoubtedly” require that VMI “adjust aspects of the physical training programs.”

Most Popular


The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More