Ms. Ginsburg gently suggested that men could take care of children too.
“There are a few states,” she said, “that have exemptions for those primarily responsible for caring for young children.”
The case seemed to light up the chief judge. “Then they will be husbands or wives,” he said.
Speaking slowly, as if to a stupid student, she replied: “It can be a husband or wife, yes.”
Years later, she reflected on the approach she took in the six cases she took to the Supreme Court.
“In those days, I considered myself a bit of a kindergarten teacher because the judges didn’t consider the existence of gender discrimination,” she said in the RBG documentary. about how you would like to see the world for your daughters and granddaughters.
More than 40 years later, progress has ground to a halt, said Michael R. Drieben, a former deputy solicitor general who has represented more than 100 Supreme Court cases and studied the Düren case in an article in the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice magazine.
“She won this huge legal victory and she really changed the way we think about gender and the law and she broke the mold,” he said. “Nevertheless, the underlying stereotypical patterns persist much longer both in law and in practice.”
According to Mr. Driben, the most noticeable gap is among the elite lawyers who appear in court.
“Obviously there is a lot of progress since one third of the court is made up of women,” he said. “But it doesn’t have such a strong effect on lawyers.”