Ginsburg Says Colleagues Have "Blind Spot" on Women's Issues

Ginsburg Says Colleagues Have "Blind Spot" on Women's Issues Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ. Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In an interview with Katie Couric released Thursday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended her position in the landmark Hobby Lobby case, and said her male colleagues have a “blind spot” when it comes to women’s issues.

Ginsburg dissented in the June 30 ruling Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., which found that closely-held companies could, on religious grounds, refuse to comply with the government mandate for providing contraceptives as part of company health plans for employees.

“I certainly respect the belief of the Hobby Lobby owners,” Ginsburg told Couric, the former television anchor who is now chief news anchor for Yahoo News. “On the other hand, they have no constitutional right to foist that belief on the hundreds and hundreds of women [employees].”

Couric pointedly asked, “Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision?” Ginsburg’s reply: “I would have to say no.” She agreed with Couric who said the all-male majority in the Hobby Lobby case revealed a “blind spot” on women’s issues.

But Ginsburg also said, “justices continue to think and can change. They have wives. They have daughters. By the way, I think daughters can change the perception of their fathers.”

She added, “I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.”

It is rare for justices to defend in public their views in court decisions and to critique their colleagues, but Ginsburg has done so from time to time, especially on gender issues.

In the Couric interview, Ginsburg again repeated her insistence that she will not resign so that President Barack Obama can appoint her replacement.

“All I can say is that I am still here and likely to remain for a while,” she stated, citing the example of Justice Louis Brandeis who retired in 1939 at age 82. “I expect to stay at least that long,” said Ginsburg who will turn 82 next March 15.

Contact Tony Mauro at tmauro@alm.com.

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