Saturday, 2:15 PM
Justice Ginsburg addresses rapt audience at New England Law Boston
(Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)
Justice Ginsburg had the audience's undivided attention.
By Brian R. Ballou, Globe Staff
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke in a soft voice to about 180 New England Law Boston students this morning, discussing the numerous roadblocks she faced as a trailblazer, her relationship with other justices, and cases that changed American society.
Ginsburg, who had pancreatic cancer surgery on Feb. 5 but returned to work 17 days later, stood in front of the students and took their questions, often giving humorous responses that drew laughter from the captivated crowd.
"If I could have asked God to give me any talent in the world, I would never have been a lawyer, I'd be a great diva,'' she said. The students, an even mixture of men and women chosen from a lottery to attend, broke out in thunderous laughter as the diminutive associate justice flashed a smile.
Ginsburg said she has taken advice on how to deal with her recovery from former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, herself a cancer survivor, and has received support from her co-workers. She said Justice David Souter was so supportive that he filled in for her ailing husband, taking her to the opera.
"He never goes out, so people were amazed to see him,'' Ginsberg said.
Ginsburg started her appearance, a celebration of the school's 100th year, with a rehash of a groundbreaking case that struck down a Virginia statue that barred interracial marriage. A student asked Ginsburg to name her favorite opinion.
"That's a little like asking me which of my four grandchildren I like best," Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg, who was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, then talked about United States v. Virginia, which struck down the Virginia Military Institute's long-standing male-only admissions policy. She wrote the majority opinion in that case.
Ginsburg declined to answer a question about how she would handle the same-sex marriage issue if it were to go to the Supreme Court. She said that if she gave an answer she would be prejudging the case.
"The issue may very well someday come to the Supreme Court," she said.