Colleagues and law clerks — young lawyers who work with justices for the span of a year — remembered Ginsburg’s accomplishments in a rare meeting of the Supreme Court Bar, an organisation of lawyers who have practised before the court.
Featured speakers included Elizabeth Prelogar, the 48th US solicitor general and the fourth-ranking figure in the Department of Justice. Though she now represents the federal government before the Supreme Court, Prelogar had formerly served as a clerk for Ginsburg.
“Justice Ginsburg’s accomplishments as an advocate are extraordinary, the stuff of legend,” Prelogar told the audience, referencing Ginsburg’s tenure before joining the court.
Ginsburg served as a justice for 27 years. She was only the second woman to join the bench on the nation’s highest court.
But she had previously argued as a lawyer before the Supreme Court for many years, famously pushing to protect women’s rights. She won five of the six cases she presented before the court in the 1970s and was ultimately appointed as a justice in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton.
“Although Justice Ginsburg’s advocacy transformed an entire area of constitutional law, she never focused only on abstract legal principles. Decades later, she still remembered every client and the injustices that brought them to court,” Prelogar said on Friday, praising her mentor’s “enduring commitment” to everyday Americans.
But Ginsburg’s death ahead of the 2020 election would prove to be a transformative moment for the Supreme Court, allowing its nine-member bench to lean even more conservative.
Ginsburg died on September 18 of that year, allowing then-Republican President Donald Trump to fill her seat with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, his third appointment to the bench.
That gave conservatives a commanding six-to-three majority over the Supreme Court. The court has since backed several conservative priorities, including the repeal of Roe v Wade in June 2022, which ended the constitutional right to abortion.