When asked why the Court changed with the Reed [v. Reed] decision, Ginsburg, in her interview with Williams, said, “Simply this. The Court switched because society had changed.”

August 31st, 2011

“Something Paul Freund, great constitutional law scholar, said is right on target. ‘The Supreme Court should never be affected by the weather of the day, but inevitably, it is affected by the climate of the era.’ By 1971, people all over the United States were awakening to the injustice of arbitrary gender-based classifications.”

A great feature in the Supreme Court Insider that tells the story behind the story of Reed v. Reed. This mirrors Ginsburg’s recent comment“It was the women’s movement… that made it possible for the Supreme Court to do what it did.”

More on Ginsburg’s strategy at the ACLU:

The Reed case and Ginsburg’s subsequent cases were part of a three-prong strategy: litigation, legislation and public support. Of her litigation effort, Aryeh Neier, executive director of the ACLU during Ginsburg’s litigation years, once compared it to what Thurgood Marshall did at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Her effort, he said, was “one of the masterpieces of American cause litigation.”

So what happened after Reed v. Reed?

Sally Reed eventually moved into a nursing home. Her house at the intersection of West Dorian and Vista was sold. Some of the proceeds, said Derr, were used to pay for a trip by Reed, years later, to Washington as a guest at the annual dinner of the Supreme Court Historical Society. It was the first time that she and Ginsburg had met. She died in 2002.

In a letter to Derr upon Reed’s death, Ginsburg saluted Derr’s effort on Reed’s behalf and wrote that Reed was the type of human that makes America great – “an everyday person ready to stand up for what is right and just, with faith that our system would vindicate her plea.”

Some of the proceeds from the sale of Reed’s home also were used for the monument outside of the Idaho Angler store. At the bottom of the plaque, which recounts the story of Reed v. Reed, is a notation that Nov. 22, 1971, is included in the book, “Days of Destiny,” in which “America’s Greatest Historians Examine Thirty-One Uncelebrated Days That Changed The Course of History.”