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Attorney who was Supreme Court clerk says Justice Ginsburg embodied a quiet, but powerful presence

A local attorney who was a clerk for the Supreme Court says Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an important pioneer for women's rights who embodied a quiet, yet intense and powerful presence on the court.

News 12 Staff

Sep 19, 2020, 11:21 PM

Updated 1,372 days ago

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A local attorney who was a clerk for the Supreme Court says Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an important pioneer for women's rights who embodied a quiet, yet intense and powerful presence on the court.
Attorney Stephen Shackelford of Westport said he was fortunate enough to interact with and learn from Ginsburg. He was a law clerk for the Supreme Court when Ginsburg announced the dissent in the Ledbetter case.
He said he was shocked when he heard Friday night's news of her passing.
"A living legend who was also, again, just a very good and decent human being," Shackelford said. "Such a huge pioneer for women's rights, even before she got on the court, she had done so much for our country and just a quiet, intense, powerful presence on the court."
Shackelford said Ginsburg's friendship with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is an example of how she helped keep the court respectful.
"Even on a court that was very sharply divided on some issues, they treated each other as human beings and as friends, and Justice Ginsburg was a very important part of that," he said.
Shackelford, however, worries the current collegiality among the court could be lost if President Donald Trump pushes to appoint a replacement too quickly.
"I do think the court could be changed for a generation. That will affect the country deeply," Shackelford said.
If Joe Biden wins the upcoming election, Shackelford said his appointment would likely keep the status quo.
"I do think the court could be changed for a generation. That will affect the country deeply," Shackelford said.
At the end of the day, Shackelford said he hopes Ginsburg's successor is someone who preserves her legacy of fighting for the rights of all Americans, including women and minorities.
"Preserving a court that sets an example for the country. That we can have sharp disagreements, and we can debate those disagreements, and sometimes even convince each other of those disagreements," Shackelford said.
He was a clerk for Justice Steven Breyer in 2006 and 2007.


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