I recall my forty-five minute private encounter with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at one of the National Association of Women Judges’ (NAWJ) annual meetings in Washington, D.C. As an officer of the NAWJ, I was volunteered to be “with” Justice Ginsburg behind the NAWJ meeting stage so that the Justice would not be left alone prior to her speech. I am very short at five feet tall, but I recall towering over this diminutive justice who was impeccably dressed with a tailored black suit and a beautiful black knitted shawl around her slim shoulders. I tried to chat with her but found her to be very reserved for she limited her responses to a crisp yes or no. She did not engage in small talk, so to speak. It was not until later that I realized and admired how cautious she was in avoiding saying anything that could be misconstrued by anyone. When she sat at the main table at this NAWJ meeting, she became lively and discussed important issues affecting women judges and their constituents. Justice Ginsburg expressed how she admired us as women judges for taking the lead on many social issues such as prison reform for women.
Although I cannot recall what questions I asked Justice Ginsburg in my attempt at small talk behind the stage, I still recall the image I have of her in my mind – she was a Justice who weighed her words carefully and admired women judges for our work. She encouraged us to continue our work by mentoring other women, especially minority women, to become judges and justices. She is indeed our shero!