One year after the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lawyer, academic and, last but not least, judge of the Supreme Court of the United States of America since 1993, we are pleased to share a short piece written by our colleague Francesca Ferrari last year, dedicated to this "advocate of human rights, of battles against gender discrimination, but also undoubted supporter of a concept of a legal culture open to comparison and exchange".
"The Supreme Court of the United States is mourning. Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away: she was the second woman to enter the Supreme Court and very well known, worldwide, for her battles on gender discrimination. Her fame was definitively enshrined in 2018 with the movie "At Ruth's Court - RBG", which legitimately celebrated the protagonist and also received the nomination for an Oscar for Best Documentary.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not only a constitutionalist, but also an expert in civil procedure, and this is the subject she taught at Rutgers University from 1963 to 1972. Recently, during a research I conducted about fishing expedition -in Italy known as exploratory trial- a topic I devoted my last book, entitled not by chance, "La Pesca di frodo" (editor's note "Poaching"), I came across one of her orders of 2015 in the case Yates v. United States. The case involved a fish trader and became particularly famous as breeding ground for the aforementioned metaphor of fishing expedition. My curiosity to know more about this judge led me to do some research on her life and her publications, although I had never dealt with issues such as those she had normally dealt with. Thus, I discovered, among other things, how important was the prominence that Ruth Bader Ginsburg attributed to international law and the comparison between legal systems.
The words she uttered in 2005 in a lecture at Emmanuel College in Cambridge (UK) are enlightening: "the U.S. judicial system will be the poorer ... if we do not both share our experience with, and learn from, legal systems with values and a commitment to democracy similar to our own" and more "we should approach foreign legal materials with sensitivity to our differences and imperfect understanding, but imperfection, I believe, should not lead us to abandon the effort to learn what we can from the experience and wisdom foreign sources may convey. Comparative sideglances can sometimes aid us in deciding not only what we should do, but what we should not do" (“A Decent Respect to the Opinions of [Human]kind”: The Value of a Comparative Perspective in Constitutional Adjudication, in FIU L. Rev. 27, 2006).
From these words emerges once again the immense value of this woman: not only as a tireless advocate of human rights and upholder of the battles against gender discrimination, but also, as an unquestionable supporter of a concept of legal culture that is open to comparison and exchange, which today fortunately seems to be the rule, but for a long time has been denied.
We, too, therefore, who as legal practitioners, and not only as academics, believe in comparison, internationalization, exchange with other legal systems, are on the right track when we sit around a table - or unfortunately nowadays online - and discuss with our foreign colleagues. In doing so, we certainly on the one hand protect the interests of our client, on the other hand we increase the quality level of our approach. ... in the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we enrich our legal system.
(Original text in Italian. Translation by the editor)