Remembering Justice Ginsburg

In the fall of 2015, I had an opportunity to spend about half an hour alone with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A few months prior, I had produced a custom LEGO set featuring the first four women of the Supreme Court. One of the Justice’s longtime friends read about the set and reached out to arrange a meeting in Manhattan a few days later. That evening, the Justice had plans to go out to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. So we met at her hotel and planned to talk in her car on the way to the Met Opera, one of her favorite haunts.

She emerged from the elevator wearing a black sheer floral jacket over black sheer skinny pants. Her fingers, holding onto a gold clutch, were adorned with chunky rings, her ears pierced with golden scallops. In the car, she held onto her signature fishnet gloves. As always, her hair was up in a ponytail, and her trademark black glasses framed her face. How was it possible I was sitting with this legend, with no one else around save her two U.S. Marshals in the front seats?

Not surprisingly, the Justice was fascinating to speak with. I had brought her a framed version of the minifigures from my “Legal Justice League” and she seemed elated. “How did you make them?” she asked excitedly. We talked of baseball in Brooklyn, of life in Massachusetts, of books, films, and plays about her, most of which were still forthcoming at that point but have now been published or otherwise released. We talked of her work, which she clearly felt the weight of every single day. She noted that the worst part of her job was dealing with captial punishment cases, and it was clear she fervently hoped our nation would soon outlaw this most flawed and heinous practice.

As we neared Lincoln Center, she thanked me and told me she would bring my gift to share with her family that night. My voice felt small in that moment, but I thanked her for fighting for women and for people without any voice. And off she went, into the back alleys of Lincoln Center, to enjoy an opera and a night with her family.

Happy birthday, Justice Ginsburg. We remember you on this day and always.

@MIT News deputy editorial director; @LegoNASAwomen creator; author of CARBON QUEEN, forthcoming from @mitpress ; champion of women. Tweets = my views. She|he

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