Former law clerks Amanda Tyler and Dean Trevor Morrison discuss Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final book at BWLN event

On March 22, the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network (BWLN) hosted a book talk in honor of the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final book. Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life's Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union, is a look back at Ginsburg’s career co-authored by Ginsburg and Amanda Tyler, a professor at University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

In the discussion Tyler was joined by Dean Trevor Morrison, who like Tyler served as Ginsburg’s law clerk. The event was co-sponsored by the NYU Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation and NYU’s John Brademas Center.

Tyler noted that she and Ginsburg began work on the book after Ginsburg visited Berkley Law in 2019. The book traces Ginsburg’s seminal work for gender equity in the law, including notable briefs and previously unpublished speeches, Tyler said. In the book, Ginsburg also discusses some of her favorites among the opinions she wrote as a Supreme Court justice, alongside anecdotes from her personal life and career.

“Predominately, you’re hearing her tell her life story in her own words,” said Tyler.

Watch video of the discussion:

Selected remarks from the discussion:

Amanda Tyler: “Her ambitions included…having gender discrimination treated like race discrimination in terms of the level of scrutiny that was given to such distinctions.” (video 10:50)

Trevor Morrison: “One hears lots of stories…from folks who were fortunate enough to be in the room when she was delivering one of these [speeches], about the care and thought that she put into every major speech that she delivered. And so this, through this book…many, many more people are going to have the benefit of being able to read these.” (video 13:36)

Tyler: “What I like about the inclusion of her great Shelby County dissent [in the book] that it shows that these are concerns more broadly that animated her jurisprudence.… It wasn’t just about equal opportunity for women. It was about equal opportunity for everyone to participate in society, to have a voice in society, and to be able to have the full range of opportunities available to others.” (video 17:58)

Morrison: “When I teach [Ginsburg’s majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, which struck down the Virginia Military Institute (VMI)’s male-only admissions policy], what sticks with me is…that part of the point of ensuring equal protection is to preserve the freedom of people to act contrary to what the majority of members of their gender, or whatever the classification is, might want to pursue in their own lives. So the fact that hardly any women were likely to seek admission to VMI was neither here nor there. It was precisely for individual people to be able to make decisions about their lives, even contrary to stereotypical expectations.” (video 22:22)

Posted April 21, 2021