Ginsburg’s law clerks line up to mourn and everyone stays hush about jarring lack of color

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The Deputy Governor of Illinois called attention to the elephant in the room as the memorial service for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg got underway.

Christian Mitchell, the Democrat serving under Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration, noted the “jarring lack of ppl of color” in comments on social media about the law clerks who had gathered to honor Ginsburg who passed away last week at the age of 87.

Ginsburg’s former law clerks served as “honorary pallbearers” and formed a dramatic backdrop on the front steps of the Supreme Court as her casket arrived on Wednesday. After a private ceremony, members of the public are allowed to pay their respects as the late justice lies in repose at the Supreme Court.

As her casket arrived, an “army of law clerks” were present, “dressed in black and standing silently,” CBS News reported.


(Source: NBC News)

Over her 27 years on the high court, Ginsburg had reportedly hired more than 100 clerks, and many came out to honor her on Wednesday.

But there seemed to be something “noticeable” about the collection of clerks gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court.

“Incredibly moving watching the army of #RBG’s clerks escorting her body to lie in state,” the Illinois deputy governor tweeted Wednesday.

“Equally moving to see the jarring lack of ppl of color. Even in a life that did so much for us and for women, who are well repped,” he added. “We’ve got much work to do to be in the halls of power.”

As the media seemed to ignore the optics, Mitchell pushed back on criticism as he clarified that he did not “discredit” Ginsburg, touting “how much she did for POC.”

Newsone managing editor Bruce Coleridge-Taylor Wright noted that it was “hard to ignore how RBG only had 2 Black law clerks over her decades as a judge.”

In an article titled, “Examining Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Complicated Legacy On Race,” he wrote:

But that high praise for Ginsburg infamously resulted in part with her having only had two Black clerks in total during her decades as a judge. That included one clerk during her 13 years on the D.C. Circuit Court — a duration where the National Review reminded its readers “she had never had a single black law clerk, intern, or secretary. Out of 57 employees, zero blacks.” That unfortunate trend continued after she became a Supreme Court Justice, when she “hired only one black clerk among the more than 100 clerks she has had.”

 

Ginsburg even faced criticism over her hiring record during her 1993 confirmation hearings and, was called out when newly confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh bucked the trend by hiring female and black clerks once he began his tenure on the high court in 2018, the same year Neil Gorsuch hired a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation as a law clerk.

Meanwhile, as the media seemed to generally ignore Ginsburg’s record on law clerk hires, many on social media did express their thoughts.

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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