Read Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 2012 Glamour Woman of the Year Speech

Anna Moeslein
·3 mins read

The loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice and champion of women, is immeasurable. In her two decades on the bench, and long before, she has passionately defended the rights of all people, especially those who are underserved. “More than any other person, she can take credit for making the law of this country work for women. She is a transformational figure...and for me, an inspiration,” fellow Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan told Glamour in 2012. 

The magazine honored Ginsburg that year with a lifetime achievement award at the annual Women of the Year ceremony. (Ginsburg also famously received her favorite “dissent collar” in the event’s gift bag.) The Supreme Court justice was presented her award by her friend Nina Totenberg, the American legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio. 

“To the unschooled, she might seem an unlikely superwoman. Soft spoken, diminutive, and very shy with those huge glasses on top of her nose. But let me tell you: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite simply changed the world for women,” Totenberg said as she took the stage. “As a young lawyer, she led the fight for gender equality. And by the time she herself donned Supreme Court judicial robes and a white lace collar in 1993, Justice Ginsburg had worked a revolution. At her confirmation hearing, she predicted that in her lifetime she hoped there would be three, four, or more Supreme Court justices who were women. Speaking as a journalist who covered the all-male Supreme Court for 13 years, I can tell you that when I walk into that chamber now and see that her prediction has come true with three women on the bench—one at each side, and Justice Ginsburg very close to the center—my heart just skips a beat.” 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the 2012 Glamour Women of the Year Awards

Glamour Magazine Honors The 22nd Annual Women Of The Year - Backstage

Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the 2012 Glamour Women of the Year Awards
Dimitrios Kambouris

Below is an excerpt of Ginsburg’s speech. The feminist icon may have claimed her lucky number was two, but she was first in our hearts. We are tremendously indebted to her.

“The judiciary is not a profession that ranks very high among the glamorously attired. In fact, the black robes judges wear leave little room for stylistic innovation. In fact, judges’ robes are made with men’s ties and trouser pockets in mind. Taking a cue from our colleagues abroad, Justice O’Connor and I broke the plain black monotony by wearing a variety of lace collars, and we also added sewn-in pockets. Not very long ago the only way to distinguish the justices, at least in appearance, was to separate the bearded from the close-shaven. Is it not…a wonderful sign of progress that three women now serve on our Supreme Court, and no one confuses me with Justice Sotomayor or Justice Kagan? 

“Most of my life, my lucky number has been two. Second woman to be appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, and then second woman to the Supreme Court of the United States. But I am tremendously indebted to Glamour for making me first. First Supreme Court justice named Glamour Woman of the Year. Justice O’Connor, who has been designated first in almost everything said, ‘Ruth, that’s fine, you will soon be 80. It is high time.’ A thousand thanks for tonight’s delight, and every good wish to all of you.”

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Originally Appeared on Glamour