Robert Schapiro Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law and Co-Director of Emory Law’s Center on Federalism and Intersystemic Governance


Headshot of Robert Schapiro 1x1

Areas of Expertise

  • Constitutional law
  • Federal courts
  • Federalism
  • Civil procedure

Overview

Robert Schapiro is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law at Emory University and co-director of Emory Law’s Center on Federalism and Intersystemic Governance. He served as dean of Emory University School of Law (2012 to 2017) and interim dean (2011 to 2012). His research and scholarship focuses on federal courts, constitutional law and civil procedure.

Schapiro clerked for Judge Pierre N. Leval, then of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, and for Justice John Paul Stevens of the US Supreme Court. He is the author of Polyphonic Federalism: Toward the Protection of Fundamental Rights (2009), and the forthcoming “States of Inequality: Fiscal Federalism, Unequal States, and Unequal People.”



Commentary

The Legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Sept. 19, 2020)

Justice Ginsburg had an enormous impact on the law of the United States and on the people of the United States.  She worked tirelessly and successfully to advance equality and fairness in American society. 

Unlike most Justices on the United States Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg had a notable career worthy of public esteem before becoming a judge. Her pioneering work litigating sex discrimination cases made the country more equal. 

On the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg had the opportunity to inscribe her compelling understanding of sex equality on the law of the United States, perhaps most notably in writing the majority opinion striking down the male-only admission policy at the Virginia Military Institute. In that case and others, she forcefully rejected policies relying on stereotypical notions of women’s abilities and preferences. She penned powerful opinions across a range of issues, promoting a vision of equality and fairness that bolstered protection for civil rights, for affirmative action, for reproductive rights, for labor rights, for the rights of criminal defendants, and for the separation of religion and state. 

Given the composition of the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg often ended up on the losing side. She had a special collar that she wore over her judicial robes when she read an especially important dissent from the bench. She wore that collar often, and her words called the majority to account for ignoring fundamental principles of justice and for abandoning the individuals who deserved judicial protection.

In one of her last opinions, a dissent for herself and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she castigated the Court for upholding a government policy that had the effect of stripping women of insurance coverage for contraceptive services. She highlighted the real burdens the policy would impose on the lives of ordinary women.

Through her pioneering advocacy and her service on the bench, Justice Ginsburg sought to bring the nation closer to its core ideal that all persons are created equal and entitled to equal dignity and respect. Though her compelling dissents signaled her belief that much work remains to be done, she immeasurably advanced the cause of equality. Because of Justice Ginsburg, the country is a much better place.  She will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.


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