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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  December 23, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST

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ï ¿>> from our studios in new york, this is "charlie rose." charlie: welcome to the program. we begin with two supreme court justices and conversation at the new york bar association. we talked to ruth bader ginsburg and sonia sotomayor. justice ginsburg: i thought of myself as a teacher. my parents but teaching would be a good occupation from me. women were not welcome as doctors and lawyers. i realized i was facing an
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audience that did not know what i was talking about. most men at that time thought that the law was riddled with gender-based distinctions but they operated in the women's favor. a woman didn't have to serve on a jury pick if she did not want to. so that was a benefit. >> eavesdropping reflected curiosity. i think that is what drew me. charlie: a rare conversation with ruth bader ginsburg and justice sotomayor. charlie: let me take note of the fact they have both written books. "my beloved world."
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justice ginsburg, "my own words." a compilation of speeches she has written. i want to start with this. looking back on your life, justice ginsburg, thinking even though it was incorporated in speeches, what was that like for you, to put your own life and focus? justice ginsburg: "my own word" is a collection of speeches, bench announcements, tributes to colleagues. it is not a biography of may to the extent that my life is told. it is in the introductory passages that my official biographers wrote. that biography will come out sometime in the distant future.
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charlie: but your book, "my beloved world," you said i am my mother. what did you mean? justice sotomayor: as i tell her, good and bad. i am my mother's child. she aspired to be more than her circumstances. she wanted to go to college. she lived in the poorest circumstances. she would watch the college girls walked by her house, going to the post office. that was the center of the town. all she dreamt about was someday going to college. and getting my brother and i
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into college was her living her dream. she wanted me to be a journalist. i don't think she was ever convinced there was value in the law. perhaps when i got on the supreme court she might have changed her mind. [laughter] but i lived that dream for her. i have lived all of her dreams because she set the example for me of striving to do better, to try to be the best person i humanly could be. that is how my mother lives her life. i try to emulate all of those things in my mother that are the best. when i do the things that are bad i remind her that that is the problem with being a little duck you copy everything. charlie: you once said listening in on conversations -- it was an
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important aspect of growing up for you. justice sotomayor: who doesn't like to eavesdrop? the eavesdropping reflected curiosity. i think that is what drove me as a lawyer. i always tell people, being a lawyer is like being a voyeur and other people's lives. you participate a little more than lawyers do. but you get to learn about how people are an industry or a government entity interacts, and what is important to them. to enjoy that process, i think you have to have curiosity. listening to others in their conversations was a way of teaching myself things that i would not have otherwise learned. charlie: when did you fall in
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love with the law? justice ginsburg: people sometimes ask me, did you always want to be a judge, a supreme court justice. when i think of what life was like in this city in the 1940's, no girl -- it would not be there while the to be a judge. there simply weren't any. franklin delano roosevelt appointed the first woman to a federal appellate court in 1934. she stepped down the year i graduated from law school in 1959, and then there were none. johnson appointed charlie hofstadter.
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she became the first ever secretary of education. and then there were none, again. so, i didn't think about being a judge until jimmy carter became president of the united states. he looked around at the federal bench and said you know, they all look like me. [laughter] that is not how the united states looks. he was determined to appoint members of minority groups, and women in numbers, not as one at a time curiosities. he appointed over 25 women to the federal district court, the trial bench, and 11 to courts of appeals. i was one of those lucky 11. no president ever went back to the way it was.
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president reagan didn't want to be outdone. he made it a nationwide search for the first woman. charlie: sandra day o'connor. justice ginsburg: and it was a brilliant choice. charlie: you have said when she left the court it marked a change. because she was gone. justice ginsburg: i have said more than once that the term that she loved, whenever the court provided fire for her, i was one of the four, i would have been one of the five if she remained with us. there was that an enormous difference. charlie: my question going back to both of you have been influenced by people, your husband, your late husband had a huge influence. justice ginsburg: yes.
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charlie: you have said to me you would not have made it to the supreme court without him. justice ginsburg: no question about it. people at the time said ruth would have been on a list. maybe she would be 22 or 23. marty made her number one. >> how did he do that? >> he had a little book of people he contacted. [laughter] justice ginsburg: mainly my academic colleagues in those days. i was teaching. this was before my first good job in d.c. he got in touch with academic colleagues. he had many letters sent to the president. the most important thing of all,
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and this was almost out of the blue, my rabbi, my guide was senator moynahan. how did that come about? it was a connection marty was pleased to have but it didn't come through them. the president was on a plane with senator moynahan going to some democratic function and said please tell me, who would you pick? for the supreme court? senator monahan said i'm not a lawyer, so you shouldn't ask me that question. the president said i value your judgment. who would you pick? he said ruth bader ginsburg. why?
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because dean griswold, the longtime dean of harvard law school thinks she is very good. i could not have a harvard law degree because i did not stay there for my third year. so many chance things occur and you don't know if they will turn out to be good or bad. this was certainly good. there was a celebration at the court of the 50th anniversary of the building. it was completed in 1935. this was 1985. dean griswold was solicitor general. he was to make a speech about great advocates before the court. by 1985 he realizes that he cannot have a list with all men. after he finishes his with thurgood marshall, the next
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person he mentions his ruth bader ginsburg. justice sotomayor: when i went for my nomination process, i was told everyone should have had a marty ginsburg. [laughter] he apparently came into the preparation session with folders including all of ruth's speeches, her entire schedule for her entire life, and binders filled with information. justice ginsburg: that part the purpose reported inaccurately. he had no problem with the taxes or the babysitter. marty was a tax lawyer. [laughter] but in our home, our personal life, i did all of the taxes. [laughter] [applause]
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charlie: and guess who did all of the cooking. justice ginsburg: when all the presidents men, and there were only men, they descended into my apartment, marty made a delicious lunch for everybody. [laughter] charlie: it was at one point, he would do the special occasions and you would do dinners for the kids during the weekdays. finally your daughter said maybe you should just give that up too. justice ginsburg: in fact, my daughter, who was an excellent cook herself, she learn from a master, i was the everyday cook. i had seven things that i made. [laughter] when i got to number seven we went back to number one. they all came out of the 60 minute chef. no more than 60 minutes from
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when you walked in the door until it was on the table. marty would never allow me to cook for company. he was the weekend cook. my daughter and her high school years realized daddy's cooking was better than mommy's, and mommy should be phased out of the kitchen. the result is my wonderful daughter comes once a month. she cooks for me. she fills the freezer with individual dinners. she feels responsible for getting me out of the kitchen and doesn't think i should go back and it. [laughter] justice sotomayor: the supreme court refrigerator is filled with some of the leftovers. charlie: what is the best experience for a supreme court justice? justice sotomayor: interesting
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question. charlie: tell me. justice sotomayor: well, i am biased. being on the district court, since all of my colleagues have only had court of appeals experience, except for a elena kagan, and there have been three supreme court justices in the history of the court with this experience, i find it hard to understand how you can really appreciate the life of a case if you haven't really sat in the courtroom to see that case develop, to understand the dynamics that create a record. that create the discussions that end up coming before the court on appellate review. in my judgment if i were ever privileged to be asked by a president what should he or she look for, i would say someone
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with district court experience. charlie: doing that you see not only the case, but you see the stories? justice sotomayor: the stories of the people. justice ginsburg: it helps to be a lawyer who knows the stories. who probably knows more about the case than the district judge. charlie: oh! [laughter] charlie: we have a debate going. justice ginsburg: i started out my life in the law. as a clerk to a district judge. i was a clerk in new york for two years. 59-61. justice sotomayor: do you see appellate practice as being the same as trial practice?
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even accepting your premise, which is being a lawyer is critical. there is a difference between trial and appellate lawyers. justice ginsburg: there is an enormous difference. the trial level it is to build a record. justice sotomayor: and to know how difficult that can be. justice ginsburg: yes. charlie: when you decide cases, do you think about -- are you looking in saying we have to do what the law tells us? looking at precedent, looking at the constitution. do you say to yourselves what is going to be the impact on people, these decisions that we make? justice ginsburg: i think those are harmonious. when the constitution says no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, nor shall any person be denied equal
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protection of the laws, the constitution tells us to think about the individual. and the right of individual has. charlie: but it is not an abstract. it is a reality in terms -- justice sotomayor: it is inescapable for us to be aware of the impact of our decisions. we are receiving briefs. friends of the court briefs. from virtually every impact of society. we can't the side the big issue case. so that is inescapable part of our work. ruth is talking more
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fundamentally, which is obviously you can't rule without at least understanding what the consequences will be of your ruling. not just in terms of the law, but because the law is responsible for human developments. you have to know what is going to happen more broadly to be able to understand the choices you are making. justice ginsburg: there are some cases when the law is clear and certain. but you have to be a certain age to run for office. that is not the case that we get. the special thing about the supreme court is for the most part we don't take cases where everybody agrees. we wait for splits. other judges disagreeing about what the federal law is.
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what it means in a particular context. the wonderful and put that we have, we have the benefit of what other good mines on benches, state and federal have said about it. charlie: the interesting thing is, there is a higher place that it can go. if you are on the supreme court the buck stops here. you are making the final decision. justice ginsburg: and not you. the court is. the district judge, tony was talking about, they are the real power holders in the system.
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they sit alone in the courtroom. you can't get out. you are stuck with that judge on the day the complaint was filed. you go up to the court of appeals. you were not the lady of the manner anymore. you had to carry at least one of the minsd to prevail -- minds to prevail. when i write for the core it is if i were a i have to take into account the use of my colleagues. ♪
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â charlie: how much do you think your life as a litigator, has influenced your sense of a supreme court justice? justice ginsburg: for one thing, i am sensitive to what it is like to be on the receiving end of questions.
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i had a fantastic fortune in that i was alive and a lawyer when the women's movement was revived in this country. what we were saying in the 70's, successfully winning case after case, the same thing women have said ever since abigail adams and before, society wasn't prepared to listen in the 70's, society had already moved. the changes in the law were catching up to the changes that had already occurred in people's lives. to be able to advocate for that cause, to see results that could not have been achieved even in the 1960's was a fantastic
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opportunity, totally exhilarating, also exhausting. charlie: those ifs that you wrote, those decisions you influence, your proudest achievement of your life? justice ginsburg: yes. i would say yes. i thought of myself in those days as a teacher. my parents thought teaching would be a good occupation for me. women were welcome there. a world welcome as doctors, lawyers and engineers. i realized i was facing an audience who didn't know what i was talking about. they understood race discrimination. that was odious. most men at that time thought that the law was riddled with
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gender-based distinctions. they all operated benignly and women's favor. it woman didn't have to serve on a jury of she did not want to. so that was a benefit. to get them to see that says something about a woman as a citizen. a citizen has rights and obligations. men know that they are an essential part of the citizenry because they can't escape civic duty. women are expendable. we really don't need them. to get across that message, there was this pedestal that many men thought women were on, they were spared the necessity to earn a living. that was a myth. it was never true for poor women.
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to get them to see that what they regarded as favors, and the wonderful expression justice brennan used, the pedestal turned out to be a cage because it can find women -- confined women and limited what they could do. to get the court to understand there was discrimination, that was a challenging job. justice sotomayor: i was just going to say, as groundbreaking as your work as a litigator was, the notorious rbg will live on a lot longer. [laughter] [applause] charlie: what do you think of that? justice ginsburg: i think it is absolutely amazing.
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[laughter] justice ginsberg: an 83-year-old woman should be notorious. [laughter] justice ginsberg: but i understand where it comes from. you know the famous rapper, notorious b.i.g. he and i were both born and bred in brooklyn. [laughter] [applause] justice ginsberg: more than that, i think that the nyu students who dreamed up this notorious rbg, it started with my dissenting opinion in the shelby county case, the decision that took the heart out of the voting rights act of 1965. she was angry. then she thought that is not a productive emotion. i want to do something positive. she took my dissent in the shelby county case and that was
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the beginning of the notorious rbg. [laughter] charlie: you are a role model to many. how do you see that? and you have spoken before about how the supreme court may be very beneficial to have, to see how well a latina woman sees this world. justice sotomayor: earlier we were in conversation with your editor. your book editor. we were talking about when i embarked on writing my book i asked my editor, what makes a great memoir? and my editor and yours as well have said the identical thing. honesty.
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that readers can read and feel when truth is being spoken, or when it is a put on that is not to be believed or accepted. to the extent that i continue to try to live my life as a normal person, and with an honesty that i define as valuable, trying to be both human and a justice, not that you are not, then i think i give people hope about being able to achieve the things they want to achieve, even though they might perceive it themselves with limitations society has otherwise imposing on them.
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charlie: you too can dream your dreams. justice sotomayor: yes. you don't have to let the limitations others impose on you or even the ones you feel yourself disable you. both trying and potentially achieving. that is what i perceive my role to be. to continue being as much sonya as i can be. so those who have lived live s similar to the one i have can have hope. charlie: and feel they are part of the fabric of american life. justice sotomayor: i am. they can be too. [applause] justice ginsburg: there was a line i used in the introduction to the book about the five
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jewish justices. the question was, what is the difference between a bookkeeper in the garment district and a supreme court justice? my answer was one generation. the difference between the opportunities open to my mother and those open to me. charlie: one generation. justice ginsberg: one generation. it was an important generation. charlie: i once asked you, you are often called the thurgood marshall of the women's movement. you have said to me that is a comparison you reject because? justice ginsburg: when thurgood marshall went into a town in the south -- charlie: to argue a case. justice ginsberg: in the morning
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he didn't know whether he would be alive at the end of the day. i recommend everybody a book called "devil in the grove." you will get that fence of what those lawyers were up against. in fact, he didn't know whether he would live to see another day. that was something i never encountered. my life was never in danger. that was an enormous difference. as far as technique, i copied his technique. [laughter] justice ginsberg: he was a great lawyer. he let the court step-by-step to get to brown v. board. he argued cases when he told the court, equal not before the court today, these are vastly unequal. they knew they had to have some
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legal training for african-americans. they set up this vastly inferior law school. when he had his building blocks in place and made the big pitch, the aclu women's rights project that i cofounded, that is what we tried to do, to get there. not in one giant step, so that by the time the big step came it would be inevitable. all the building blocks. justice sotomayor: do you think you have reached that stage? justice ginsburg: no. but considering where we were, considering that in 1961, the liberal warren court told wendell and hoyt, the woman we
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would today call battered, who had been humiliated to the breaking point by her philandering abusive husband, she one day could not bear it anymore. she spied her son's baseball bat, she beat her husband over the head. that was the end of the humiliation and the beginning of the murder prosecution. florida didn't put women on juries in those days. not all that long ago, 1961. the supreme court said we don't understand what this complaint is about. any woman who wants to serve can go to the clerk's office and sign up. if she doesn't sign up she is not going to be called. was, if thereg were women on my jury, perhaps they wouldn't acquit me, but there's a good chance they would have convicted me of the lesser offense of manslaughter and not murder.
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she was convicted of murder by an all-male jury. the warren court thought that was ok. as late as 1961. the change did not come until the burger court, that had a reputation for being conservative. and yet, that court brought down one federal law after another, another, onw after the ground that they discriminated against arbitrarily on the basis of gender. charlie: what does that say about the way the court works? and time? justice ginsburg: there was a great constitutional law professor who said the court should never be influenced by the weather of the day. but inevitably it will be
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influenced by the climate of the era. that is what the court of the 1970's was influenced by. charlie: is that what the court of the 21st century has been with respect to marriage equality and same sex marriage? influenced by what was happening in the larger community? the climate. justice sotomayor: i'm wondering whether i should answer at all. [laughter] justice ginsburg: i will say -- justice sotomayor: she gets more cover than i do. [laughter] charlie: that is an interesting question in itself. meaning? she is given more what? latitude? justice sotomayor: i think so and rightfully so. she has earned it.
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she has fully earned it. justice ginsburg: it is only because i am old enough to be her mother. [laughter] justice ginsburg: but i will say something about what happened. when i was growing up, people who were not heterosexual were in the closet. they did not reveal who they were. i remember the first time in this very space, there was a program in the new york city bar about the problems gay and lesbian people encountered. things like renting a house, finding a dentist. i was on the posted mission legal education committee. one member of the committee
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would sponsor every program. no one volunteered to sponsor a program that the gay activists alliance asked to have a the city bar just to explain the problems they encountered. so i volunteered, i was the only woman on the committee. the men sort of giggled, what is so funny? bruce, -- ruth, do you think they will feel comfortable dealing with a woman? what makes you think the gay activist alliance is composed only of men? the truth was they sent their excellent vice president, who happened to be a woman, as one of the people to speak. what happened, i think, is people came out of the closet. people stood up and said this is who i am and i am proud of it. we looked around, and who were
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they? our next-door neighbors. our child's best friend. maybe even our child. when that happened, there was no longer the same we-they difference. they were part of we. these were people we loved, that we worked with. that was something that gave impotence to the gay rights movement that was much harder with racial discrimination. people tended to live in neighborhoods that were either all white or all african-american. there really was a we-they. there was that sense that once people stood up and said this is who i am, that made an enormous difference. justice sotomayor: if you count the decades from plessy versus
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ngrguson, excepting -- accepti accepting segregation as compatible with the 14th amendment, to brown versus board of education, it was over 50 years. it took that long to lift societal expectations about what true equality had to mean. i think ruth is pointing to the fact that we have a society that begins to think about notions differently with experience. that experience, those experiences teach society, and yes, justices at times. charlie: is there a bond amongst in the justices who are women? justice ginsburg: there's a special pride that i have in my newest colleagues.
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don't you know the old nursery rhyme, what are little girls made of, sugar, spice, and everything nice? that is what little girls are made of. little boys, nails and snails and puppy dog tails. all of you who have visited the supreme court know my newest colleagues are not shrinking violets. they take a very active part in the colloquy that goes on in the oral arguments. justice sotomayor: if i may take the liberty of relating a story, the day our newest colleague was sworn in, the president as is customary was there and came in to greet all of the justices. he got to justice ginsburg and said something like justice
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ginsburg, are you happy with the two sisters i have brought you? [laughter] paused,sotomayor: looked at him and said, i am very happy. but i will be happier when there is five. [laughter] [applause] justice ginsburg: the answer to that question, when will there be enough? when there are nine, of course. ♪
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♪ charlie: there are only eight now. justice ginsburg: it is not a good number for a collegial court. [laughter] charlie: and you hope that this after the election, that there will be a consideration by the senate before the new president takes office? justice sotomayor: we hope there will be nine as quickly as possible. we function as nine. justice ginsburg: i thought we did remarkably well last term when there were only three cases
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that could not be decided because there was an even division. but they were importing cases. it means uncertainty will continue in the country on those issues until there are nine. charlie: you have said to me, you missed justice scalia. justice breyer was on with me in new york last week and he said i miss the spirit of justice scalia and the debates with justice scalia. i assume you feel the same way. justice sotomayor: he made us laugh. charlie: that is what it was. justice sotomayor: and he made us think. he challenged us to think. those are ingredients for interesting conversation, and for lively discussion. charlie: you once said to me you both loved opera.
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he could sing better than you. justice ginsburg: i can't sing at all. [laughter] charlie: but they are writing lines for you in the opera that you will perform in when? justice ginsburg: november 12. it is a speaking part. [laughter] justice ginsberg: there is an opera. scalia ginsburg. it is a comic opera, of course. but the composer, he tried to say in and a nutshell what is the difference between the two of us? it opens with scalia's rage aria. the rage aria is this. the justices are blind. how can they possibly spout this?
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the constitution says absolutely nothing about this. he is searching for bright light solutions to problems that don't have easy answers. but the great thing about our constitution is that like our society, it can evolve. so that sets up -- [laughter] justice ginsberg: then we have a wonderful duet at the end. [laughter] justice ginsberg: we are different, we are one. different in the way we approach the interpretation of legal text, but one in our reverence for the constitution and the court. charlie: one thing justice scalia said, it probably wasn't the best idea that how many supreme court justices came from harvard or yale. that wasn't necessarily a good
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idea for the supreme court. do you agree with that? and most of them had judicial experience at court of appeals level. justice sotomayor: i actually thought he did not think that. charlie: didn't you say something like it? regardless of whether he said it or not. [laughter] justice sotomayor: i will give you that. ale, and ruthom yel spends part of her time at harvard -- justice ginsburg: columbia has had a lot of great justices. charlie: you got your degree from columbia and a story you and i have talked about. when you switched to columbia from harvard for your third year, harvard would not give you a degree. you got a degree from columbia. justice ginsburg: they said i had to stay for the third year. charlie: your husband was moving to new york. justice ginsburg: yes.
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i did not want to be a single mom. there were two things. marty had been diagnosed with a severe cancer. we did not know how long he was going to live and we didn't want to be a part that year. i didn't want to be a single mom to my three-year-old daughter. so i asked the dean if i successfully complete my education in columbia, will i get a harvard degree? absolutely not. you have to spend the third year here. i had the perfect rebuttal argument. class might of mine had taken the first year of law school at penn. she transferred into her second year class. i said to the dean, she will have year two and three and you're going to give her a degree? you say the first year is the
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most important. i have one and two. charlie: to come back to the point, what is lovely about this story, they then wanted to give you a degree to the law school. justice ginsburg: that is when my now colleague alayna cabling -- elena kagan, when she became dean. every year she said ruth, we would like you to have a harvard law school degree? my husband said hold out for an honorary degree. charlie: and they gave it to you. justice ginsburg: sadly one year after he died. charlie: there is a picture in your chambers of you receiving that in your crimson. and one of your heroes singing to you. justice ginsburg: being serenaded by placido domingo.
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can you imagine? charlie: she has labeled the photograph woman and ecstasy. [laughter] justice sotomayor: i said just recently, there is no way the supreme court could ever be reflective of the society in terms of experiences. in part because we are appointed for life. that means that a change , fundamental changes in the court take a very long time to occur. so we are never going to be completely on an even keel with the experiences of the society. we are going to be off keel a little bit. a lot, actually. not about diversity in the general sense or ethnicity or gender. but i do worry about it in terms of the lack of professional and life experience diversity that our court has. i say that despite being a
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little bit different than my colleagues and some of my experiences in my life. justice thomas and i come from backgrounds somewhat dissimilar from our colleagues. but none of us have the breath -- breadth of the experiences to the law. for example, we have no criminal defense lawyers on our courts. we have one civil rights lawyer. there are so many other incredibly important civil rights issues out there, continuing to be the civil rights movement for ethnic minorities but also for handicapped people. we have very few practitioners with small and medium-sized practice experience. we have very few people from geographical differences in the united states.
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and, as you noted, very little in terms of religious differences, and even less in terms of educational experiences. that is a lot of areas where we don't reflect the general society. do i think it does harm to our judging? not necessarily. but it certainly, i think, does harm to the court's reflection of attempting to be broader in its outreach to people. charlie: it is great to have two new yorkers back home. [applause] ♪
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>> you are watching "bloomberg technology." the united states has given its biggest rebuke in recent history to israel, allowing the un security council to condemn israeli settlement in continuing construction and palestinian territory as a flagrant violation of international law. instead of casting a veto in support of israel, the u.s. abstained among which gave a green light to the council to approve the resolution unanimously, a move greeted with loud applause in the security council chamber. president-elect donald trump reaction to the u.s. abstaining from the security council vote. he sent out a tweet not long


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