LAW WEEK COLORADO
Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday in Colorado Springs read a funny and heart-warming speech written by her late husband, tax attorney Martin Ginsburg.
The occasion for the speech, presented above, was the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ biennial bench/bar conference at the Broadmoor Resort. Martin Ginsburg had agreed to give the speech, but he died in June.
Martin Ginsburg’s speech recounted how an obscure 10th Circuit tax case, which the Ginsburgs handled pro bono, led to a Supreme Court appearance for his wife and to a host of other gender-discrimination cases. The case involved a contested tax deduction involving a Mr. Morris that would have been allowable had Morris been a single woman. He was a single man.
The Morris case, which was handled under the auspices of the American Civil Liberties Union, led to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s being retained to handled the much-larger discrimination case of Reed v. Reed before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the government appealed an unfavorable 10th Circuit verdict it got in the Morris case, attaching a mainframe-generated list of hundreds of other statutes that would be similarly affected. The nation’s high court denied cert, and the future Justice Ginsburg used the list to successfully challenge the statutes in other courts.
The outcomes were “all in all great achievements from a tax case with an amount in controversy that totaled exactly $296.70,” Martin Ginsburg wrote in his speech. “As you can see in bringing those tax court advance sheets to Ruth’s big room [her office] 40 years ago, I changed history for the better and I shall claim I rendered a significant service to the nation.”
Justice Ginsburg was composed throughout the speech but concluded with a tear in her eye. The audience gave her a standing ovation.