Female Justices

here is the website : https://npg.si.edu/exhibit/fourjustices/painting.html Nelson Shanks painted this portrait of the first four female justices.  Read about the portrait, and justices, on that page of the website.  The Supreme Court was established in 1789 but there wasn’t a female justice until 1981, when Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the bench.  Think about the painting and its importance then answer the following questions:

1.  Why might the artist have arranged the women in this particular pose, with some women sitting and some standing?  What can we determine about the relationship between these women based on their pose?

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2.  Describe what each sitter is wearing.  How are their outfits similar and how are they different?  What can you tell about the sitters’ jobs based on their clothing?

3.  Elena Kagan, at the time of the portrait, was the youngest member of the Supreme Court.  She was the first female dean of Harvard Law School and the first female United States solicitor general.  Justice Kagan has said the following about Justice Ginsburg:  “What explains this gulf between Justice Ginsburg’s experience and mine?  In large part the answer is simply Justice Ginsburg.  As a litigator and then as a judge she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law.”  Explain what it means that Justice Kagan’s path was made smoother by Justice Ginsburg.  What obstacles did Justice Ginsburg face that Justice Kagan may not have?

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4.  What is the importance of having a painting like this hanging in the National Portrait Gallery?  Based on the length of time it took for female justices to sit on the bench (over 200 years), does that give any credibility to RBG’s thought that real, enduring change is gradual and takes time?  Why or why not? For more information on Female Justices check out : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJya3NmSDpM

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