RBG’s Mixed Record on Race and Criminal Justice

RBG’s Mixed Record on Race and Criminal Justice

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a revered feminist icon. Her legacy on issues such as prisoners’ rights, capital punishment, racial justice and tribal sovereignty has been less examined. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits in her chambers in 2002 in Washington, DC. David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images n the days since Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87, tributes have tended to focus on her work championing gender equity and reproductive rights. Her record on issues of criminal justice and race is less examined—and less consistent. The Marshall Project reached out to a range of court-watchers, scholars and prisoners’ rights advocates to ask about Ginsburg’s legacy in these areas. Most criminal justice reform proponents we spoke to praised Ginsburg for her record, in which she was typically skeptical about the government wielding its power unfairly against defendants and prisoners. But there were times she and , and she was outspokenly pragmatic on her approach to the death penalty, frustrating its opponents. Here’s a look at Ginsburg’s record on policing, fair trials, sentencing, prison conditions, racial justice, Native rights and more. When it came to prison conditions and the rights of incarcerated people, Justice Ginsburg simply wasn’t as visible. She wasn’t the primary author on any of our blockbuster human-rights-in-prison cases. When she did author a decision on these issues, it was generally when the court was unanimous or near unanimous. Meanwhile, in split decisions, she generally sided with the more liberal justices, but she was […]

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