As a new judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the early 1980s, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recalled asking a question during oral arguments early in her tenure. The lawyer replied, "Well, Judge Wald...," confusing her with the only other woman on the court at the time, now-retired Judge Patricia Wald.
"The idea of two was too much to contemplate," Ginsburg said, earning laughs as she told the story during a panel discussion yesterday on women and the District of Columbia's federal courts. She added she was also referred to as "Justice O'Connor" after joining the Supreme Court in 1993, mixing her up with now-retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Ginsburg said the growing number of women judges in courts across the country today, notably her fellow Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, made her "tremendously optimistic" about the future. "We are no longer one-at-a-time curiosities," she said, adding that having multiple women on the Supreme Court was "exhilarating" and offered "the right picture for the children who troop in and out."