Friday, September 18, 2020

On the Passing of Notorios RBG - Her Record, and What Happens Next

I’m combining a couple of posts here: one on my very non-political tribute to the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, then a link to a podcast I just recorded with pal Chris Stigall, that also featured noted columnist and podcaster/broadcaster Kurt Schlichter. 

Like many Americans, I mourn the loss and pay tribute to the life and accomplishments of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In a few days, I will share thoughts on the Senate and politics going forward, but this is no time for that. 

I know many of you saw, as my wife and I did, “On the Basis of Sex,” the biopic on Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We may watch it again. So should you. It is a terrific movie.

Pondering her legacy, I revisited the story of the law case that made her famous, especially since she had no prior courtroom experience. While I loath Wikipedia, their description of her landmark case is worth repeating, below. It beats anything she did on the Supreme Court, where I find her legacy a bit less attractive. I’ll leave it at that.

Consider, she helped a man overcome a sexually discriminating tax case in the 10th Circuit (Colorado). Posted below:

“In 1970, Martin Ginsberg (Ruth’s husband) brings Moritz v. Commissioner, a tax law case, to Ruth's attention. Charles Moritz is a man from Denver who had to hire a nurse to help him care for his aging mother so he could continue to work. Moritz was denied a tax deduction for the nursing care because at the time Section 214 of the Internal Revenue Code specifically limited the deduction to "a woman, a widower or divorcĂ©e, or a husband whose wife is incapacitated or institutionalized". 

“The court ruled that Moritz, a man who had never married, did not qualify for the deduction. Ruth sees in this case an opportunity to begin to challenge the many laws enacted over the years that assume that men will work to provide for the family, and women will stay home and take care of the husband and children. She believes that if she could set a precedent ruling that a man was unfairly discriminated against on the basis of sex, that precedent could be cited in cases challenging laws that discriminate against women—and she believes that an appellate court composed entirely of male judges would find it easier to identify with a male appellant.

“Ruth meets with Mel Wulf of the ACLU to try to enlist their help, but he turns her down. Ruth flies to Denver to meet with Moritz, who agrees to let the Ginsburgs and ACLU represent him pro bono after Ruth convinces him that millions of people could potentially benefit. After reading the draft of the brief, Dorothy Kenyon, who was cold to the idea at first, meets with Wulf in his office and convinces him to sign on. The Ginsburgs and Wulf file an appeal of Moritz's denial with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Department of Justice Attorney James H. Bozarth asks to be the lead counsel for the defense. He does a computer search to find all of the sections of the US Code that deal with gender. His defense will contend that, if section 214 is ruled unconstitutional, that will open the door to challenge all of America's gender-based laws. Ruth, having no courtroom experience, does poorly in a moot court, and Wulf convinces her to let Martin lead off arguing the tax law, with Ruth following up with equal protection arguments.”

She won. The rest, as they say, is history. RIP, RBG.

On a related note, my friend Chris Stigall is one of the most agile podcasters I know (and I know so many!). He is one of the nation’s top political podcasters and broadcasts live both on WNTP 990 (a Salem station) in Philly every weekday morning and, soon, his former station, KMCO (Cumulus), in his native Kansas City. 

He reached out tonight to include me along with the legendary Kurt Schlichter to discuss the ramifications of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing. I am reluctant to discuss the politics so soon after her passing (hours!) - bad manners - but since I’ve gone public, perhaps a few of you may find interesting my ruminating (some would say, ruminents) on the machinations that may be likely at work in the US Senate, where I have a little experience. I have no inside inside knowledge of the real “Game of Thrones” underway in the Senate as we speak. Speculative, on my part.

Enjoy at your leisure. And you really should subscribe to Chris’s podcast on iTunes. 

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