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Justice Kagan celebrates Justice Ginsburg

Monday - 2/3/2014, 11:30pm  ET

DEEPTI HAJELA
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "has done as much as anyone in the last 40 years" to make the country more just and equal, her colleague on the bench, Justice Elena Kagan, said Monday night.

Kagan spoke about Ginsburg's work as an attorney and her decisions as a judge at a lecture for the New York City Bar Association. The talk was for the annual "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law" put on by the bar association, and Ginsburg was in the audience and introduced Kagan to the crowd.

Kagan started her remarks to the appreciative audience on a light note, pointing out that Ginsburg has numerous fans who have created online sites about her and showing pictures of Ginsburg as a young woman, but she went on to more serious praise, from the quality of her legal writing to the cases she has been involved with and her steadfast determination to work toward gender equality.

"As a litigator and then as a judge, she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law," Kagan said.

Kagan discussed three cases Ginsburg took on as an attorney, all of which looked at laws that treated men and women differently. She also talked about three of Ginsburg's judicial decisions -- the striking down of the Virginia Military Institute's male-only admission policy, in which Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in 1996; the 2007 Ledbetter v. Goodyear employment discrimination case in which she wrote the dissent; and the 2013 Vance v. Ball State discrimination case in which she also dissented.

Asked by a second-year law school student for any advice, Ginsburg said she's enjoyed every part of her legal career, and what made her so satisfied is "I spent a lot of my time doing something outside myself, doing something that I hope makes life better for other people."

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