When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited Stanford

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, Sept. 18, twice visited Stanford University, once to help celebrate Constitution Day and later to deliver the Rathbun Lecture on a Meaningful Life.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke with then Stanford Law School Dean Elizabeth Magill, who once clerked for Ginsburg, during a visit to campus Sept. 17, 2013. The then-80-year-old jurist spoke on Constitution Day, when public schools and institutions recognize the adoption of the U.S. Constitution with programs about the founding document. Ginsburg told the audience that contentious cases and sharp dissents don’t translate into acrimony among the justices. "What holds us together is that we revere the institution for which we work,” she said. "We know that we must maintain a high level of collegiality.”
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In January 2017, Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited Stanford to deliver the Rathbun Lecture on a Meaningful Life. The talk was so widely anticipated that a lottery had to be implemented to distribute tickets. Ginsburg was welcomed with a standing ovation.
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To live a meaningful life, do something for your community, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told the Stanford audience. "If you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself," she continued. "Something to repair tears in your community. Something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That’s what I think a meaningful life is - living not for oneself, but for one’s community."
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During a question-and-answer session, moderated by then Dean for Religious Life the Rev. Jane Shaw, Ginsburg encouraged students to get involved with public interest groups that reflect their passions. When one student asked Ginsburg how she would like to be remembered 100 years from now, she said: "That I was a judge who worked as hard as she could to be the best of her ability to do the job right." The audience applauded.
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During the question-and-answer session with students, Ginsburg said she is often asked if she has any advice to share. "I do," she said. "It comes from my savvy mother-in-law, advice she gave me on my wedding day. ’In every good marriage,’ she counseled, ’it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.’ I have followed that advice assiduously, and not only at home through 56 years of a marital partnership nonpareil. I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade."
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Mary Hynes, associate professor (research) of biology, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Marc Tessier Lavigne posed for a photo after they met at the Round Room of Memorial Church after Ginsburg delivered the Rathbun Lecture on a Meaningful Life.
Image credit: L.A. Cicero


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