Armen’s previous post turned out to be a bit premature, as yesterday’s Supreme Court announcements were more of a whimper than a bang. The only case decided was Ledbetter v. Goodyear, in which the Court held that “employees claiming they received disparate treatment based on gender or race must do so within 180 days of the original discriminatory action -- not within 180 days of their last paycheck” (HT Law.com).
The case is noteworthy, however, not just for its ideological fault lines (an expected and ominous 5-4 split), but also because Justice Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench. I thought this was noteworthy because I couldn’t remember her doing this in the past, yet it was the second time this term (she also read her opinion in Carhart).
The New York Times picked up on this as well, here. It quotes former Ginsburg clerk, and current Boalt superstar, Prof. Liu. The Times mentions a few possible reasons for Ginsburg’s sudden verbosity—theatrics, sour grapes, strategic judgment. But I think, and the article indicates as well, that Ruthie is just simply pissed off. She can see the writing on the wall with the new Court, and she isn’t willing to be a silent minority. Prof. Liu also suggests that she sees her own personal and professional struggles in these cases, and that “after 15 years on the court, she’s finally voicing some complaints of her own.”
I personally am happy to hear her speak out—there are too few strong liberal voices in the federal judiciary. Perhaps she can be the much needed steward of practical liberal values during the inevitable regressive slog of the next few years.