The brethren laughed heartily

In 1853, Sarah Grimke, abolitionist and feminist, was invited to sit in the chair of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

“As I took my place,” she said later, “I involuntarily exclaimed: ‘Who knows, but this chair may one day be occupied by a woman.’ The brethren laughed heartily.”

In 1873, the Supreme Court allowed Illinois to block Myra Bradwell from practicing law just because she was a woman. Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley, in a concurrence in the case, said: “The paramount destiny and mission of women are to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator.”

In 2011, in a reenactment of the case, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ruled for Bradwell. In her brief, she wrote: “The method of communication between the Creator and the jurist is never disclosed.”

We read about RBG in the book Notorious RBG—The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik.

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