Recollections of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Visit to Canisius

September 24, 2020

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Buffalo, NY -

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday, September 18, appeared at Canisius College in October 1990 to deliver the seventh annual Frank G. Raichle Law Lecture on Law in American Society.  At the time of her visit to Canisius, Justice Ginsburg was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and was widely regarded as a leading candidate for appointment to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president.  And indeed less than three years later—on June 22, 1993--she was nominated for a position on the Court by President Bill Clinton to replace retiring Associate Justice Byron White, who had delivered the first Raichle Lecture at Canisius in 1983.

In accepting the invitation to come to Canisius tendered by Professor Peter Galie, PhD, the long-time director of the Raichle Pre-Law Center, Justice Ginsburg replied that she was aware of Frank Raichle’s “extraordinary talents and accomplishments” as a leader of the Bar, and noted that the lecture series he had endowed at Canisius had been recommended by her friend and colleague on the D. C. Circuit, Judge Robert Bork, who had delivered the Raichle Lecture in 1985. 

Ginsburg, accompanied by her husband Martin Ginsburg, a well-known professor of tax law at the Georgetown University Law Center, appeared at Canisius on October 4, 1990 and delivered the Raichle lecture, titled “Judicial Review for Constitutionality—United States Style” in the Grupp Fireside Lounge. 

Dr. Galie recalls that when the Judge and her husband arrived in Buffalo, he asked if they had seen Niagara Falls: “They had not and I offered to take them there, mentioning the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds-- soaking but exciting experiences. Marty was mute but Ruth was ready. She was nothing if not intrepid.”  And so off to the Falls they went.

Following her return to Washington, Ginsburg sent a warm thank you note for the college’s “grand hospitality and the truly VIP visit to the Falls.”  In a P.S. to her letter, which is in the Raichle Center archives, Ginsberg asked for additional copies of the lecture brochures, noting laconically that the ones she had carried home “are a bit water-logged from the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds.”

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Since its inception in 1983, six members of the U.S. Supreme Court have delivered lectures at Canisius under its auspices, beginning with Justice White and later including, in addition to Justice (then Judge) Ginsburg, Associate Justices Scalia and O’Connor and Chief Justices William H. Rehnquist and the current Chief Justice, John Roberts.