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The Great Dissenter

Ruth Bader Ginsburg holding scales of justice


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With the horrific prospect of a second Trump appointment to the Supreme Court, it seems likely that my all time favorite Supreme, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, will be writing Dissent opinions more frequently than ever and reading the most important ones from the bench.

She's not the only "Great Dissenter" in Court history, but she's certainly the current one. She has said that Dissent opinions are "written for the future" , "appealing to the intelligence of a future day", and lay the ground-work for future Majority opinions. Court history shows that this has happened before on great issues. Sometimes one voice, Dissent from an 8 to 1 opinion has become the root of a later Majority that fulfils the Constitution's highest calling, that of protecting individual rights and reforming popular wrongs, protecting minorities against majorities.

pin-on button Truth Dissents


to play the music , click the play button below (you may need to adjust the sound level downwards with the sound button) :

<a href="great_pretender.mid">[Play Sound]</a>

Or click the link great_pretender.mid to open in a new window. This will probably play automatically, so don't do it if you are at the library or study hall.


The Great Dissenter

by Pam Green , © July 2018

to tune of "The Great Pretender"

Oh o-oh yes, I'm the Great Dissenter,
When five of The Nine get it wrong.
I write for the future and History
Will see I've been right all along.
    Let divas give voice to my song !

Ohhwn sex, I'm the Great Dissenter,
Notorious , strident, and strong :
"Equal Protection" means "strict scrutiny"
To see gender bias as wrong.
    Let divas give voice to my song !

   So real was that feeling of welcome joys,
   So true when new colleagues were not born as boys !
   With Sonya , Elena to make their views known ,
   I'm so glad I'm no longer alone.

Oh o-oh yes, I'm the Great Dissenter
When six of The Nine get it wrong.
I write for the future of equality,
Pray Goddess it won't take too long !
    Let divas give voice to my song !

   Too real was that feeling of disbelief,
   Too real was that feeling of shock and grief
   In nineteen sixteen the events were obscene
   And left me to be Dissent's Queen.

I would still be the Great Dissenter
If eight of The Nine got it wrong.
My essential dissents that I've read from the Bench
Will be there long after I'm gone,
To become law long after I'm gone.
    Let divas keep singing my song !

coda :

    I might not be Dissenting as often
    If more of The Nine weren't XYs.
    No one expressed fears for that hundred plus years
    When all of The Nine were Old Guys.
    Nine women would be just as wise,
    Much wiser would be no surprise !
         Let divas sing out, harmonize.


footnotes :

Ruth passed away 9/18/2020

If it was after sunset, she passed away on Rosh Hashona, which in Jewish tradition means she was a person of great rightousness. ( Yeah, like we needed a sign that she was that !)

There are no words to describe the grief of all who understood and valued her work. She changed the world for the better. There will never be another like her. She was Supremest of the Supremes.

There's no need for another verse for the song. Her Opinions, both writing with the majority and writing in dissent, "will be here long after she's gone" and will be embraced by "the wisdom of some future day".

Dearest Ruth, if there is an Afterlife you are now with your beloved mother , father, and husband Marty, probably enjoying a meal that Marty cooked. Maybe Scalia will be a guest that first night. Then you will all go to attend a special performance of the Scalia-Ginsberg opera, with your favorite diva in your role, your favorite tenor in Scalia's role.

If instead there is Reincarnation, you will come back as an opera diva, but when you retire from that, I hope you go to law school and eventually return to the Court.

Know that there are many who would have given their lives to give you an extra year. I am one of them. There's an opera based on Euripedes's Alcestis. actually one by Christoph Willibard Gluck and another by Jean-Baptiste Lully. Pick your favorite, but know that many of us would gladly be Alcestis for you.

But we know that you are not really silenced. We know that your words will speak loudly and convincingly to the wisdom of a future day.

Perhaps it's too bad I am a life-long atheist. I'd like to be able to picture Ruth sitting on the left hand of God (who may be lefr-handed as Ruth is), always prepared to give Her advice and to dissent clearly and cogently whenever She is about to make a mistake in ruling.

Women, continue the fight for equality ! Fight like RBG !

further reading (and listening and viewing):

book cover for My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg logo for the RBG Movie

On The Basis Of Sex, an RBG movie




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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 7/11/2018 revised 3/10/2019, 9/20/2020, 10/16/2020, 3/19/2023
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