How many people do you maintain as close friends while disagreeing wholeheartedly? These days, it seems rarer and rarer to find people on different sides of issues laughing and dining together.
Two Supreme Court Justices, Ginsburg and Scalia, leave a legacy for doing so. They debated, discussed, and disagreed while remembering the full humanity of each other.
Eugene Scalia, Justice Scalia’s son, had this to say about their friendship. “What we can learn from the justices, though — beyond how to be a friend — is how to welcome debate and differences. The two justices had central roles in addressing some of the most divisive issues of the day, including cases on abortion, same-sex marriage and who would be president. Not for a moment did one think the other should be condemned or ostracized. More than that, they believed that what they were doing — arriving at their own opinions thoughtfully and advancing them vigorously — was essential to the national good. With less debate, their friendship would have been diminished, and so, they believed, would our democracy.”
I am forever grateful to Justice Ginsburg for paying the way and profoundly impacting my life. By the time I attended law school, women comprised about half of all law students. It did not even cross my mind that a law firm would not hire me because of my gender. Because of Justice Ginsburg, bank accounts, a home mortgage, and home and vehicle titles in my name alone exist. Colleagues who had children did not lose their jobs when they became pregnant. My life experiences perhaps have been taken for granted because Justice Ginsburg fought for equality. Her work, of course, did not only benefit women. Children and men benefit from women working, and owning homes and vehicles. Of course, men also benefitted directly from her work to allow widowers to receive Social Security Survivor Benefits and grant tax deductions to male caregivers.
While appreciative of important work for equality, the friendship between a conservative, Catholic, Italian American and a liberal Jewish woman give me equal hope. Justice Ginsburg’s ability to welcome differences in a dialogue and demonstrate a deep respect and appreciation for those differences inspire me, and hopefully many, in the months and years ahead.