As the country is remembering the legacy and service of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Augustana University President and former U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is sharing her thoughts about how the justice impacted her world. From 2003 to 2011 Herseth Sandlin represented South Dakota in the House of Representatives in Washington, where she also studied at Georgetown University.
“I took a ‘women in law’ course during my junior year of college at Georgetown,” Herseth Sandlin said. “I had already intended to go to law school at some point. And that just solidified it for me, because a number of the cases that we studied in that course in the early ’90s, she had been involved in in the ’70s.”
Herseth Sandlin uses the word “courage” to describe Ginsburg’s legacy.
“When people refer to her as a pioneer, she really was one of the earliest voices of women for women in the legal field in the United States,” Herseth Sandlin said.
The Augie president makes a connection between Ginsburg and a member of her own family.
“I view her in a similar manner,” Herseth Sandlin said. “While I didn’t know her personally, as someone who was a trailblazer in the same way that my grandmother was. And someone who modeled for other women the importance of not being overly judgmental about the choices that women make in their lives as they blend family and career.”
Herseth Sandlin says her grandmother Lorna B. Herseth and Ginsburg have both been role models.
“I consider her a role model from the time I was reading about the cases she argued when I was in college and how I learned more about her and her jurisprudence in her early years on the Supreme Court being close to one of my mentors at Georgetown who actually worked closely with her in her confirmation process,” Herseth Sandlin said.
The former representative shared examples of different friends’ lives and linked them to the influence of the late Supreme Court justice.
“None of us would have had these opportunities to realize our professional dreams and to find creative ways to blend that with our desire to also raise families in a way that’s so supportive had we not had trailblazers like Justice Ginsburg and what she did within her sphere of influence is incumbent upon us now, women leaders who have spheres of influence, to continue to support and care for and advance the interests of women,” Herseth Sandlin said.
Herseth Sandlin says she did meet Ginsburg only for a short amount of time at the House of Representatives when they were there at a State of the Union address.