In a Monday address at Southern Methodist University, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
provided some perspective on how the Senate has changed since her 1993 confirmation:
Ginsburg said that to practice for her Senate confirmation hearings, White House staffers in mock hearings grilled her on her work for the ACLU. During those mock hearings she told them: "There's nothing you can do to get me to bad mouth the ACLU."
Such grilling, though, did not happen, she said. She was confirmed 96-3.
"Today, my ACLU connection would probably disqualify me," she said.
According to Ian Millhiser at Think Progress:
As director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, Ginsburg was literally the single most important women’s rights attorney in American history. She authored the brief in Reed v. Reed that convinced a unanimous Supreme Court to hold for the very first time that the Constitution’s guarantee of Equal Protection applies to women. And her brief in Craig v. Boren convinced the Court to hand down its very first decision holding that gender discrimination laws are subject to heightened constitutional scrutiny. It is possible that modern doctrines preventing gender discrimination would simply not exist if Ruth Bader Ginsburg hadn’t done the work she did for the ACLU.
This isn't incidental. Today we get appropriateness for the Supreme Court being defined into whatever little corners Republicans think benefit them during any given confirmation battle, and surface blandness is the order of the day, covering up the extremism of Republican nominees even as the non-whiteness, the non-maleness, the rumored sexualities of Democratic nominees are held against them. If today's political realities would prevent a Ruth Bader Ginsburg or a Thurgood Marshall from being confirmed to the Supreme Court—and they would—we as a nation have lost out enormously.