Jeffrey Toobin's admiring profile of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in The New Yorker (sub. req.) asserts that she is the Court's most accomplished litigator. Sure, he says, Chief Justice John Roberts argued more cases before the Court but "most of them were of modest significance." Whatever.
What will resonate in the Toobin piece for those of us women who lived through the heyday of the "women's movement" (that is what it was called, right?) is this passage:
She won.There is some irony in Ginsburg’s reputation for reserve, because she is, by far, the current Court’s most accomplished litigator. Before Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., became a judge, he argued more cases than Ginsburg did before the Justices, but most of them were disputes of modest significance. Ginsburg, during the nineteen-seventies, argued several of the most important women’s-rights cases in the Court’s history. Her halting style in private never prevented her from vigorous advocacy before the bench. In those days, Ginsburg was a pioneer. When, as a forty-three-year-old Columbia Law School professor, she made a full argument before the Supreme Court, in 1976, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger stumbled when introducing her. “Mrs. Bader? Mrs. Ginsburg?” he said. (Female advocates, to say nothing of those with multi-part names, were a rarity in those days.) Later in the same case, Justice Potter Stewart made a similar mistake, calling her “Mrs. Bader.”
On one occasion, when she brought some female students to the courtroom with her, they urged her to insist that the Justices address her with the novel honorific Ms. “I decided not to make a fuss about it,” Ginsburg told me. “That wasn’t the reason I was there.”