Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ruth Bader Ginsburg gives a labor-of-love speech

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently gave a speech on behalf of her late husband--his words, his witty and wry language, much of it recounting stories from their shared past. It has to be among the toughest--and most moving--speaking challenges. Slate notes:
Martin Ginsburg had been invited to deliver his remarks at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' conference in Colorado Springs, Colo., but he died in late June of metastatic cancer. As Ginsburg explained Friday evening, "He had his speech all written out." And so she read it—with a handful of interpolations—in its entirety to several hundred rapt listeners.
This article explains the talk, which focused on a pro bono case the Ginsburgs took on. It led to a Supreme Court appearance for now Justice Ginsburg, and to many more related gender discrimination cases. Slate notes that, following the reading of her late husband's speech, Ginsburg took part in a roundtable discussion.  When work-life balance came up, she shared this story, as reported by Slate:
In response to a question about work-life balance, Ginsburg explained that in the early '70s, her son, "what I called a lively child but school psychologists called hyperactive," was forever in trouble and that she was constantly called in to his school, even though she and her husband both had full-time jobs.

"One day, I was particularly weary," she explained, and so when the school called, she said, "This child has two parents. I suggest you alternate calls, and it's his father's turn." She said calls from the school came much less frequently after that, because the school was "much less inclined to take a man away from his job."
Have you ever had to give a speech in this type of situation? Share the experience in the comments.

Vital Speeches of the Day named this Ginsburg speech its "vital speech of the week."

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