Great to Have Justice Ginsburg Back on the Bench


Posted on February 25th, 2009 by Katherine Franke
 1 comment  

After surgery for pancreatic cancer, Justice barack-n-ruthRuth Bader Ginsburg returned to the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments yesterday, and then attended President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress last night.

Justice Ginsburg, a graduate of Columbia Law School and a member of our faculty before she was elevated to the Supreme Court, wasted no time once she returned to the Court after a prompt recovery from surgery.  She offered spirited questioning in oral arguments held yesterday, and the Court released an important decision yesterday as well, which she authored, in U.S. v. Hayes – finding that a 1996 amendment to the Federal Gun Control Act prohibits any person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from possessing (not just owning, but possessing) a firearm.  The case involved a rather technical reading of the wording of the statute, but was nevertheless an important victory for those concerned about issues of domestic violence.  (The narrow question was: “Does that term cover a misdemeanor battery whenever the battered victim was in fact the offender’s spouse (or other relation specified in §921(a)(33)(A))?”  An interesting, yet unposed, question in the case is whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act would bar the application of the domestic violence provision in the statute to married or “spouse-like” same-sex couples?)

Does it matter that Justice Ginsburg remains on the Court?  You bet – for reasons too numerous to list, but her opinion in this case stands in pointed contrast to Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent (joined by Justice Scalia) in Hayes in which he insisted on a ludicrous reading of the language of the Gun Control Statute.

– Katherine Franke

One comment

  1. Does it matter that Justice Ginsburg remains on the Court?

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