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The Persistent Gender Gap at the Supreme Court Lectern

Ms. Ginsburg gently suggested that men can take care of children, too.

“There are several states,” she said, “that have exemptions for persons primarily responsible for the care of young children.”

The point seemed to dawn on the chief justice. “So that’d be husbands or wives then,” he said.

Speaking slowly, as if to a dim student, she replied: “It could be husband or wife, yes.”

Years later, she reflected on the approach she used in the six cases she argued before the Supreme Court.

“I did see myself as kind of a kindergarten teacher in those days, because the judges didn’t think sex discrimination existed,” she said in the documentary “R.B.G.” “One of the things I tried to plant in their minds was, Think about how you would like the world to be for your daughters and granddaughters.”

More than 40 years later, progress has been halting, said Michael R. Dreeben, a former deputy solicitor general who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court and who examined the Duren case in an article in Criminal Justice, a magazine published by the American Bar Association.

“She accomplished this enormous legal victory, and she really transformed the way gender and the law are perceived, and she broke molds,” he said. “Yet the underlying stereotypical patterns have a much longer persistence in both law and practice.”

The most striking gap, Mr. Dreeben said, is among the elite lawyers who argue before the court.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of progress with one-third of the court being female,” he said. “But it’s not having nearly as great an effect on advocates.”

Circassia News

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