In 1971, newly assigned to cover the Supreme Court, I was reading a brief in what would ultimately be the landmark case of Reed v. Reed. It argued that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause applied to women. I didn’t understand some of the brief, so I flipped to the front to see who the author was, and I placed a call to Rutgers law professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
By the time I hung up an hour later, I was so full of information that I was like a goose whose innards were ready for foie gras. I soon began calling professor Ginsburg regularly, and eventually I met her in person at a conference in New York. We never did agree what the subject of that conference was, but take my word for it, it was boring. So boring that we … well, we went shopping.
We would become professional friends and later, close friends after she moved to Washington to serve on the federal appeals court here and later, on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some of the stories that follow have little to do with her brilliance, hard work or devotion to the law, or even her pioneering role as the architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in this country. Rather, they are examples of her extraordinary character, decency and commitment to friends, colleagues, law clerks — just about everyone whose lives she touched. I was lucky enough to be one of those people.