Morning, MTs. How was your weekend?
I know I’m not the only one here who has a tremendous admiration of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I enjoyed reading this interview in the New York Times Sunday magazine section. Obviously, a significant portion of the interview was devoted to the upcoming Sotomayor confirmation hearings, but Justice Bader Ginsberg had some interesting comments on how she and Sandra Day O’Connor may have influenced their colleagues in a few cases:
Q: What about the case this term involving the strip search, in school, of 13-year-old Savana Redding? Justice Souter’s majority opinion, finding that the strip search was unconstitutional, is very different from what I expected after oral argument, when some of the men on the court didn’t seem to see the seriousness here. Is that an example of a case when having a woman as part of the conversation was important?
JUSTICE GINSBURG: I think it makes people stop and think, Maybe a 13-year-old girl is different from a 13-year-old boy in terms of how humiliating it is to be seen undressed. I think many of [the male justices] first thought of their own reaction. It came out in various questions. You change your clothes in the gym, what’s the big deal?
Q: Seeing that Souter wrote the opinion in Savana Redding’s case reminded me of Justice Rehnquist writing the majority opinion in Nevada v. Hibbs, the 2003 case in which the court ruled 6-3 that the Family Medical Leave Act applies to state employers, for both female and male workers. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote in his opinion about an idea you have been talking about for a long time, about stereotypes. He discussed how when women are stereotyped as responsible for the domestic sphere, and men are not, that makes women seem less valuable as employees. I wonder if one of the measures of your success on the court is that a male justice would write an opinion like this?
JUSTICE GINSBURG: That opinion was such a delightful surprise. When my husband read it, he asked, did I write that opinion? I was very fond of my old chief. I have a sense that it was in part his life experience. When his daughter Janet was divorced, I think the chief felt some kind of responsibility to be kind of a father figure to those girls. So he became more sensitive to things that he might not have noticed.
Justice Ginsburg tackled some of the issues likely to face the court in forthcoming sessions. I love that she doesn’t pull her punches and she’s unapologetic in wading into issues of economic justice and personal liberty:
Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?
JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.
Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?
JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.
Q: When you say that reproductive rights need to be straightened out, what do you mean?
JUSTICE GINSBURG: The basic thing is that the government has no business making that choice for a woman.
I am grateful beyond words that she’s on the court.
In less august news, this article in The Washington Post points out a trend in teenagers hiring image consultants. I view this article with due scepticism of being a journamalism practitioner – three anecdotal stories equal not a national trend, except within a thousand-word feature – but it’s a topic that I had to think twice about. OTOH, I winced ever so slightly at this:
Even if the economy were booming, the idea of a teenager using an image consultant is perplexing, to say the least. But the trend has been taking hold among young girls who have been raised on a steady diet of pop culture, from “The Hills” to “Hannah Montana,” girls who are being shaped by an industry that trades in reinvention. In this week’s episode of Bravo’s reality drama “NYC Prep,” one teen client actually rebelled against her hectoring stylist, who declared items in the girl’s closet so “last season.”
I mean, yeah, reinvention is part and parcel of teenage years, but teenagers are supposed to be full of the time and self-absorption (I mean this in the nicest possible way) to reinvent themselves. I mean, I can’t tell you how many weekends I spent poring over the various offerings in the L’Oreal hair color line searching for the perfect hair color for the New Me. Why should I have handed this over to a paid professional a la Rachel Zoe?
OTOH, I have the accumulated evidence of years of school photos to show that some of my fashion decisions were … to say the least … sub-optimal. Case in point, my 6th grade school photos. I couldn’t understand why the clothes that I bought never yielded the desired end – instant coolness. Perhaps a few sessions with an image consultant would’ve helped me make some kinder choices. What say you?
And finally, ending on the frothiest note possible, Johnny Depp. I have cherished him since 21 Jump Street. Buthis hotness factor exceeds all measurable bounds when he does things for The Kids. Earlier in July, he revisited Great Ormond Street Hospital (a children’s hospital) in London and entertained sick kids again in full Jack Sparrow costume:
Johnny was so friendly with all the children on the ward and they absolutely loved his pirate outfit,“ a source told Wenn. “He spoke to lots of the youngsters and staff — and made their day by posing for pictures with them all.“
This was not the 46-year-old’s first encounter with the London-based children’s hospital. In 2007, daughter Lily-Rose was treated there for reported kidney failure, and in addition to donating his time, Johnny has given more than $1.5 million to the facility.