The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law feels closely connected to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the legendary U.S. Supreme Court justice who died on September 18, at the age of 87. Throughout her career, Justice Ginsburg enjoyed three extended visits to the UH law school where she taught classes and met with students, faculty and members of the community.
During her last jurist-in-residence visit in February 2017, as part of the program sponsored by the Case Lombardi & Pettit law firm, UH law students honored her with hula, and helped her plant a Native Hawaiian ʻōhiʻa lehua tree in the courtyard in her honor.
A Hawaiian lace jabot (judicial collar) made from 49 rare pink kahelelani Niʻihau shells, a gift from the law school, was also presented to Ginsburg during that visit. In addition to teaching, she answered questions as she addressed a large outdoor law school gathering and also met with 200 students from 10 Oʻahu high schools. Known for being indefatigable, in 2004, Justice Ginsburg paddled and swam with UH law students in the morning, tended to court business, and then attended an opera that evening.
During each visit, Justice Ginsburg was extraordinarily generous with her time. In her 2017 visit, she made space in her five-day schedule to meet with student journalists from the UH student newspaper, had lunches with law school faculty and with the justices of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court. She also attended several dinners in her honor and visited with women law students, and had brunch with members of the Hawaiʻi Women’s Legal Foundation.
“There is no better time to be going into the legal profession,” she told women UH law students. “There are no closed doors to you.” She further advised all law students “to do something outside yourself that you feel passionate about.” The way to affect change is to “affiliate with like-minded people…(and) join forces with others who are passionate about what you care about. There’s not much you can do as a loner.”
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