WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said “the burden of raising children” is a “barrier” in way of gender equality, stressing that parenthood is a shared duty and adding that the U.S. is “behind” many other countries in providing early childhood education.
“The other barrier that women face is, how do you arrange your life when you have children in the family? It is still true that women bear the burden of raising children. The joys and the trials of raising children. Disproportionately, but as I see more and more men are recognizing how sad it would be one day they wake up and their children are grown and they have had no part in raising them,” Ginsburg told law students during an event at Georgetown University Law Center.
“I was a few weeks ago in Santa Fe and I spoke to a United Way preschool program for children and I was so pleased with the number of fathers that were there holding the baby. And society can do a lot to help in that respect, and the United States is behind many countries in the amount of preschool care that it provides. I would say those are the major hurdles — the unconscious bias and how do you work out what is today called a work-home balance in your life,” she added.
The justice is a mother of two and has previously spoken about how she shared parenting duties with her late husband of 56 years, Martin.
Ginsburg paid tribute to late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in her opening remarks at the event, which was attended by first year J.D. and LL.M. students at Georgetown. She told the students some stories about her interactions with Scalia on and off the bench.
“His absence will be felt for many terms ahead,” she said of her good friend.
A student asked Ginsburg if there are any valid constitutional arguments to be made for not acting on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
“As you know the president has the authority to name appointees to the Supreme Court but he has to do so with the advice and consent of the Senate – and if the Senate doesn’t act, as this current Senate is not acting, what can be done about it? Even if you could conceive of a testing lawsuit, what would the response be? ‘Well, you want us to vote, so we’ll vote no, so.’”
However, Ginsburg expressed some optimism about the situation.
“But I do think cooler heads will prevail, I hope sooner rather than later,” she said. “The president is elected for four years, not three years, so the power that he has in year three continues into year four – and maybe some members of the Senate will wake up and appreciate that that’s how it should be.”