Andrew J. Nussbaum ’85, chair of the Amherst College Board of Trustees, was once a law clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. While introducing Justice Ginsburg and President Biddy Martin, he joked that he had “not before been in a situation where I’m being asked to introduce two of my bosses, one former and one current, so I’m going to be very careful and I’m going to be extraordinarily brief.”
Justice Ginsburg thanked the audience for its thunderous standing ovation.
After thanking Andrew Nussbaum for his introduction, Justice Ginsburg implored the audience to be seated “so that we can start the conversation.”
After they were seated, President Martin revealed a surprise for Justice Ginsburg...
Led by Arianne Abela, director of the Choral Music Program, the College’s Choral Society surprised the justice with an a cappella performance from her favorite opera, The Marriage of Figaro.
Justice Ginsburg relayed the story of how she “became hooked on opera at age 11” under the influence of musician and conductor Dean Dixon. When she listens to opera, she said, “All the briefs and opinions are put on a high shelf, and I just enjoy the glorious music.”
When President Martin asked her whether there will ever be an equal rights amendment, Justice Ginsburg revealed that she carries a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution with her at all times.
All 1,600 seats in Coolidge Cage were filled as the Amherst College community gathered for the opportunity to hear Justice Ginsburg speak.
Following the conversation between Justice Ginsburg and President Martin, some students, staff and faculty were able to ask questions. Top row, left to right: James Minor ’23; Ilyssa Forman ’22; Joseph Flueckiger, director of Dining Services; Beth Ollson, Amherst Fund coordinator; Bridget Carmichael ’21; Gabriel Echarte ’22; Sarah Montoya ’21. Bottom row, left to right: Laura Gottesfeld ’23; David Schneider, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Music; Olivia Gieger ’21; Danielle King ’21; Morgan Yurosek ’20; Hunter Hughes ’22; Catherine Sanderson, the Manwell Family Professor in Life Sciences (Psychology).
Coolidge Cage was transformed into a compelling event space in order to accommodate the large audience interested in hearing Justice Ginsburg in person.
President Biddy Martin reacts to Bridget Carmichael's question about what career Justice Ginsburg would choose in life other than lawyer, judge or Supreme Court Justice. The justice deadpanned, “I would be a great diva.”
The Choral Society transitioned to attentive members of the audience after their a cappella performance.
The evening concluded with President Martin thanking everyone involved in making the event happen, and particularly thanking Justice Ginsburg, to whom she said, “This is such a privilege, and your generosity seems to know no bounds. Similarly, your energy.”