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Brooklyn Law School creates Ruth Bader Ginsburg Chair, honoring late Supreme Court justice

September 23, 2020 Editorial Staff

Brooklyn Law School has announced the creation of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Chair to honor the life and legacy of the Supreme Court justice, who died Sept. 18.

Professor Susan N. Herman, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, will be the inaugural Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law. The new faculty chair was announced by Michael T. Cahill, president, Joseph Crea Dean, and professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, Sept. 20, at a remembrance event at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

“I am thrilled to be named the first occupant of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Chair at Brooklyn Law School,” said Herman. “RBG has been an inspiration and role model to me, another girl born in Brooklyn who followed her in the ACLU and in law teaching. She taught the world that no path should be closed to anyone on the basis of sex and so many other lessons in law and equality I hope to carry on.”

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Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, was a native of Brooklyn, as is Herman. Prior to her illustrious judicial career, she was well-established in academia and in litigation and advocacy. She was the second woman on the faculty at Rutgers Law School and the first woman to receive tenure at Columbia Law School.

In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded and became the first director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, where her groundbreaking work led to the end of gender discrimination in numerous areas. Ginsburg received an honorary degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1987.

Brooklyn Law School Professor and President of the ACLU Susan Herman. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

In November 2000, she returned to the Law School to present the inaugural Ira M. Belfer ’33 Lecture about the need for the private bar to rededicate itself to pro bono work.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the most important woman lawyer in the history of America and one of the most eminent jurists ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court,” said Francis J. Aquila ’83, chair of Brooklyn Law School’s Board of Trustees and partner at Sullivan & Cromwell. “Moreover, she came from Brooklyn, and never forgot it.

“We can think of no more fitting individual than Susan Herman to be the inaugural Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of ‎Law at Brooklyn Law School,” he added.

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Herman was elected President of the ACLU in 2008 after having served on the ACLU National Board of Directors, as a member of the Executive Committee, and as general counsel. At the Law School, she teaches courses in Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure and is affiliated with the Center for Law, Language & Cognition and the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship program.

In June 2017 and 2019, Crain’s New York Business named Herman on its list of “50 Most Powerful Women in New York,” and in October 2019, Trinity College Dublin Law Society honored her with its Praeses Elit Award.

A highly regarded authority on constitutional and criminal procedure topics, Herman is a prolific author. She has discussed constitutional law issues on radio and television, and her opinions are also regularly published in leading print media.

She has also participated in Supreme Court litigation, writing and collaborating on Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs for the ACLU on a range of constitutional criminal procedure issues.

“Susan Herman exemplifies and carries forward Justice Ginsburg’s powerful legacy: a contemplative and circumspect scholarly mind combined with a passion to achieve fairness and equality for all,” said Cahill. “As a Brooklyn-born, lifelong champion of civil liberties, and a highly respected educator, she brings distinction to this chair named for one of our greatest legal trailblazers.”


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