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September 20, 2022 20 mins

We’ll be back on October 11th with a brand new season of Bad Women, but in the meantime, we wanted to give you a taste of another history podcast we think you'll like.  From History Daily, host Lindsay Graham takes listeners back in time to a certain day in history to explore a momentous event. On this episode, we'll go back to August 10, 1993 when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was sworn in as the U.S. Supreme Court’s 107th justice, becoming only the second woman in history to serve on the country’s highest court.

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Speaker 1 (00:15):
Pushkin. Hello Bad Women listeners, it's me Hallie. I'm back.
We have a brand new season of Bad Women debuting
on October eleventh, But in the meantime, we wanted to
give you a taste of another history podcast we enjoy
and think you will too. It's aptly named History Daily.

(00:36):
Every weekday host Lindsey Graham, who you might know from
American Scandal. In American History Tellers, takes you back in
time to explore an incredible, momentous event that happened on
this day in history. In twenty minute episodes, Lindsay covers
everything from historical battles to scientific breakthroughs to fashion firsts.

(00:57):
In this episode, we go back in time to August tenth,
nineteen ninety three, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sworn in as
the US Supreme Courts one hundred and seven justice, becoming
only the second woman in history to serve on the
country's highest court. I hope you enjoy this story about

(01:17):
Ruth and the groundbreaking ways she broke barriers for women.
If you do, check out History Daily for more true
stories of the people and events that shaped our world. Okay,
here's the episode. Find History Daily wherever you get your podcasts,
hit Follow or subscribe for daily episodes, as well as
access to the History Daily Back catalog. It's July twentieth,

(01:51):
nineteen ninety three in Washington, DC. Inside the Senate Judiciary
Committee Hearing room, Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits
before the Committee for the first day of her confirmation hearings.
First to kick off the questioning is Committee Chairman Joe Biden.
Let me begin now with the questioned. I like to
begin by asking you about how you will go about

(02:13):
interpreting our constitution. Judge. For two hours, Ruth answers questions
from the committee about her judicial philosophy and methodology, but
throughout the hearing she was reluctant to answer questions about
her personal views on certain issues. But there's one topic
Ruth has no qualms about addressing, and this issue is
going to be before the Court for a long time
in the future. But today, having opened the door on

(02:37):
specific issues such as abortion, in my view, it's impossible
as a matter of principle to distinguish dread Scott Vay,
Sanford and the locker cases from the court substance to
due process privacy cases. A licro versus Wade. The methodology
is the same, the differences only and the results which
hinge on the personal subjective values of the judge deciding

(02:59):
the case. At this Ruth's response is immediate. One case,
the quote was affirming the right of one man to
whold another man in bond, and the other and the
other line of cases the court is affirming the right
of the individual to be free. So I do see
that there's a sharp distinction between the two lines. I

(03:21):
think substantively there may be. But the fact of the
matter is it's the same type of judicial reasoning without
the constitutional underpinnings. The position I have given you. If
you ask me, how do I justify saying that Roe
has two underpendings the equal dignity of the woman, the personhood,

(03:42):
the idea of individual autonomy and decision making. I point
to those two decisions and say that I think that
they supply the underpinning. I understand that at least I
differ with you. I'm using the Fourteenth Amendment to justus.
At least you've found some constitutional underpinning, and I had
you know that one. I feel that it's wonderful for

(04:06):
an academic or judge to be exposed to criticism. I've
been criticized with saying that legislators have any role in this.
I've been criticized with saying that the Court should not
have solved at all, and one fell swoot. So I
appreciate that I am never going to please all of
the people all of the time on this issue. I

(04:29):
can only try to say what is my position in
Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be the first Supreme Court nominee
to offer such unflinching support about the constitutional right to
abortion during a confirmation hearing. Twenty nine years later, video
clips of her defense of abortion rights will go viral.
On the day the Supreme Court overturns Rove Wade in

(04:49):
nineteen ninety three, Ruth's remarks on abortion will cause some
senators to bristle, but in the end, Ruth will easily
win her spot on the Supreme Court with a vote
of ninety six to three in favor of her confirmation.
Three weeks later, Ruth will become the first Jewish female
justice and only the second woman in history to serve
on the United States Supreme Court. From the bench, Ruth

(05:10):
will advance her pursuit for gender equality, becoming known as
one of the Court's most ardent protectors of women's rights
after she has sworn in on August tenth, nineteen ninety three.
From Neuser and Airship, I'm Lindsay Graham, and this is History.

(05:31):
Daily History is made every day on this podcast. Every
day we tell the true stories of the people and

(05:52):
events that shaped our world. Today is August tenth, nineteen
ninety three, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sworn in as Associate
Justice of the United States Supreme Court. It's the fall
of nineteen fifty six in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the home
of the Harvard Law School's dean. Ruth sits at a

(06:14):
dinner table alongside eight other female students. Together, Ruth and
her peers comprised the only women in the class of
over five hundred, but Ruth isn't surprised by their small number.
It was only six years ago that Harvard Law School
even began admitting women at all. On campus. The dorms
and the restrooms and many of the buildings are only
for men, and by and large, female students like Ruth

(06:37):
remain an anomaly. But Ruth doesn't mind. For her, attending
Harvard is a dream opportunity. Two years ago, Ruth graduated
from Cornell University as the highest ranking female student in
her class. A month later, she married her college boyfriend, Marty,
and followed him to Oklahoma, where he served as an
officer in the Army Reserve. There, Ruth worked for the

(06:58):
Social Security Administration, but was demoted after becoming pregnant with
her first child. Though there was little expectation for Ruth
to be anything other than a mother, Ruth knew she
wanted more so. When Marty decided to return to law
school at Harvard, Ruth saw her chance to pursue a
career and law herself while still caring for their fourteen
month old child. But to night, Ruth has stepped away

(07:20):
from her child care duties to attend a dinner hosted
by the dean for all the women in the college's
first year class. As Ruth finishes her meal, she accepts
a cigarette from another guest. As she takes it, Dean
Griswald rises from his seat and ushers the women into
the living room. There, Ruth sees the room's chairs arranged
in a horseshoe. As she sits down, Ruth grabs a

(07:41):
nearby ashtrain places it in her lap. She listens as
the dean asks each of the women appointed question what
were they doing at the law school occupying a seat
that could have been held by a man. The question
catches Ruth and her fellow peers off guard. Ruth listens
as the first student stands up and eases some of
the tension in the room with her tongue and cheek answer.

(08:01):
Dean griswold, there are nine of us her, five hundred
of them. What better place to find a man? The
dean chuckles and moves on to the next student. One
by one, the dean makes his way around the circle
until he gets to Ruth. As Dean poses the same
question to her, Ruth's nerves start to build. As she
stands up, Ruth forgets about the ashtray still balanced on

(08:22):
her lap. She blushes as it clatters to the ground,
sending cigarette butts and ash all over the dean's living
room floor. Feverishly, Ruth apologizes for the mess, then she
half heartedly mumbles an answer to Dean's question. She says
she's at Harvard Law because her husband is in his
second year at the college, and she thinks it's important
for a wife to understand her husband's work. The response

(08:45):
comes naturally to Ruth, but it's not her real answer.
In truth, even though Marty is a year ahead of her,
Ruth took the law entrance exams even before he did.
Ruth knows she isn't at law school because of him.
She's at law school because she wants to study law.
But Ruth still doesn't feel comfortable voicing her ambition as
a woman. But eventually, Ruth's actions speak louder than her

(09:06):
words ever could. In the ensuing, Ruth's drive and talent
become apparent to everyone at Harvard Law. Before long, Ruth
shoots to the top of her class. She even becomes
one of the first women to serve as editor for
the college's esteemed Law Review. Still, Ruth faces her fair
share of challenges in her classes. Professors rarely call on
their female students at the library. Ruth has even denied

(09:30):
access to the periodical room because she is a woman.
But gender discrimination is only half of Ruth's battle at
law school. In Ruth's second year at Harvard, tragedy strikes
when her husband, Marty, develops testicular cancer. For Ruth, it's
an unfortunately familiar struggle. The day before her high school graduation,
Ruth's mother died from cancer. Following the lass, Ruth became

(09:53):
determined to live out the dreams of education and empowerment
that her mother strove to instill in her. But with
a sick husband and a young child, Ruth faces an
uphill battle. So for months, Ruth strikes a delicate balance
between looking after her daughter and taking care of her husband.
She types his class notes and papers while also doing
her own school work. Often Ruth only sleeps for two

(10:15):
hours a night, but somehow she manages to stay on
top of it all. With Ruth's help, Marty receives his
highest grades and graduates on time in the spring. But
soon Ruth's journey at Harvard gets cut short when Marty
lands a job in New York City. Eager to stay
with her husband, Ruth transfers to Columbia, where she earns
her law degree and graduates at the top of her class.

(10:38):
Upon graduation, Ruth will begin carving her path in the
legal field, but despite her accolades and recommendations, Ruth will
struggle to find work. One Supreme Court justice will decline
to even interview her for a clerkship because she's a woman.
But at the forceful insistence of one of her Columbia
law professors, a judge in New York will eventually give
Ruth a chance, and finally Ruth will have her foot

(11:00):
in the door. From there she will rise through the
ranks of a field determined to shut her out. It's
nineteen sixty nine at Rutgers University. Inside a classroom, Ruth

(11:22):
proudly stands in front of a group of students. She
is the law school second ever female professor, and today,
as she gives her lecture, she reflects back on the
journey that brought her here. After clerking for a judge
in New York for two years, Ruth returned to academia.
In New York, Ruth worked as a research associate and
then as an associate director of the Columbia Law School

(11:43):
Project on International Procedure. Then, in nineteen sixty three, Ruth
was offered a position teaching civil procedure at Rutger's Law School.
The job was a great opportunity for Ruth, but it
came with a disturbing caveat Ruth would be paid less
than her male colleagues because her husband already has a
well paying job. Ruth accepted the offer, but she quickly

(12:03):
joined an equal pay campaign with other women teaching at
the university. Together, they filed a federal class action discrimination case,
and one resulting in substantial raises for all of them.
Since then, Ruth has been happily working at the university
and become a popular professor within the law school. And today,
Ruth's popularity brings her a new opportunity. As Ruth's lecture

(12:25):
comes to an end, students begin to file out the doors,
but Ruth notices a group of students who stay behind. Together,
they approach Ruth and ask her to lead a seminar
on women and the law. Women's legal rights are not
Ruth's current area of expertise, but Ruth does think it
would be a worthwhile seminar to provide, and she bets
it'll be a good learning experience for her students and her.

(12:47):
As one of the only female law professors in the country,
Ruth knows there are a few more qualified to teach
it anyways, so Ruth gladly accepts her student's proposal. Soon
she gets to work preparing her new course. But as
Ruth tries to develop the curriculum, she discovers there's very
little information on the subject. Soon, Ruth realizes she has
the opportunity to make an even bigger impact. Before long,

(13:11):
Ruth volunteers as a faculty adviser to help found Rutgers
Women's Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the
United States to address women's rights exclusively. Than three years
after starting the seminar, Ruth takes on another project. She
becomes the founder and director of the Women's Rights Project
for the American Civil Liberties Union. There, Ruth sets her

(13:31):
sights on using the courts to take on gender discrimination nationwide.
Through her work with the Women's Rights Project, Ruth charts
a strategic course. Rather than asks the court to end
gender discrimination all at once, Ruth decides to attack the
problem in small increments. With each step she takes, she
aims at a specific discriminatory statute and builds on each

(13:53):
successive victory. And she also doesn't confine her cases to
those with female plaintiffs. Instead, Ruth often picks male plaintiffs
to help demonstrate the harm of gender discrimination to both
women and men. With Ruth at its helm, the Women's
Rights Project and other clu initiatives participate in more than
three hundred gender discrimination cases by nineteen seventy four. Between

(14:15):
seventy three and seventy eight, Ruth herself argues six gender
discrimination cases before the Supreme Court. Of the six, she
wins five, and in each case, Ruth persuades the court
to appreciate that the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection
applies to discrimination based not just on race, but also
on sex. Then in October nineteen seventy eight, a new

(14:38):
opportunity comes Ruth's way when Congress passes the Omnibus Judge
Ship Act. Not only does this new law increase the
number of federal judges and district and circuit courts, but
it works to ensure that the judge ship is more diverse.
Three months after the law passes, Ruth applies to be
a nominee to the US Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit and applies again for the District of Columbia Circuit.

(15:00):
Three months after that, President Jimmy Carner nominates Ruth to
sit on the DC Circuit, where she will serve as
a judge for thirteen years. Then, in nineteen ninety three,
Ruth's biggest opportunity yet will come her way, one she
previously never thought possible, the chance to serve on the
highest court in the land. On June fourteenth, nineteen ninety three,

(15:22):
President Bill Clinton will announce his nomination of Ruth Bader
Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. Two months and several days
of confirmation hearings later, Ruth will become the US Supreme
Courts one hundred and seventh Justice, carrying with her a
vision of a more equal and just society. It's August tenth,

(15:50):
nineteen ninety three. At the White House. Their Chief Justice,
William Rehnquist, President Bill Clinton, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg gathered
before a small crown for her swearing in ceremony. Camera's
flash and applause thunders as the three take their spot
on a small stage at the front of the room.
Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. Here's my

(16:12):
distinct honor to introduce the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
As a hush falls over the audience, Ruth places her
hand on a bible and takes her off. Justice Ginsburg,
will you raise your right hand and repeat after me, I,
Ruth Vader Ginsburg, do solemnly swear, I'm Vader Ginsberg, do

(16:34):
solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution
of the United States. That I will support and defend
the Constitution of the United States. As Ruth finishes, she
breaks out into a wide grin So help me, God,
So help me God. The crowd erupts an applause, and,

(16:58):
blinking back tears, Ruth steps in front of the stage's
lectern and begins her prepared address. Times are changing. The
President made that clear by appointing me and just last
week naming five other women to Article three courts. Ruth
smiles again as she mentions a quote she enjoyed hearing

(17:19):
from her only other female colleague on the bench. Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor recently quoted Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Gene Cooin,
who was asked do women judges decide cases differently by
virtue of being women? Justice Coinn replied that in her experience,

(17:43):
a wise old man and a wise old woman reached
the same conclusion. I agree, but I also have no
doubt that women, like persons of different racial groups and
ethnic origins, contribute what a fine jurist. The late Fifth

(18:07):
Circuit Judge Alvin Ruben described as a distinctive medley of
views influenced by differences in biology, cultural impact, and life experience.
A system of justice will be the richer for diversity

(18:28):
of background and experience, it will be the poorer in
terms of appreciating what is at stake and the impact
of its judgments if all of its members are cast
from the same mold. Then Ruth ends her speech on
an optimistic note. In my lifetime, I expect there will

(18:51):
be among federal judicial nominees, based on the excellence of
their qualifications, as many sisters as brothers in law that prospect.

(19:12):
That prospect is indeed cause for hope, and its realization
will be cause for celebration. Thank you. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
will serve on the Court from nineteen ninety three until
her death from cancer in twenty twenty. Her twenty seven

(19:33):
year tenure on the Court and her lifetime of advocacy
for the legal equality of Americans will turn Ruth into
a revered figure in the women's rights movement and earn
her the Roosevelt Freedom Medal in twenty fifteen. Too many,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be remembered as one of the
pioneers of gender equality, someone who broke barriers herself when
she was sworn into the highest court in the land

(19:54):
on August tenth, nineteen ninety three. Next, on History Daily,
August eleventh, nineteen fifty, the alleged trader Ethel Rosenberg is
arrested on allegation a spine for the Soviet Union from
Neuser and Airship. This is History Daily, hosted, edited and

(20:15):
executive produced by me Lindsey Graham. Audio editing and sound
designed by Molly Bond. Music by Lindsey Graham. This episode
is written in research by Alexandra Curry Buckner. Executive producers
are Stephen Walters for Airship and Pascal Hughes for Neuser.
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