David M. Schizer (Former Dean, Columbia), The Conservative Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
With the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we have lost one of our nation's greatest legal minds. While she obviously was much beloved on the political left, we should not forget key aspects of her legacy that also resonated powerfully on the other side of the aisle, including her commitment to meritocracy, family, incremental change and the rule of law. I speak from personal experience, as a conservative who served as her law clerk during the October 1994 term—her second year on the Supreme Court—and stayed in close touch with her ever since.
RBG's friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the court's great conservative thinkers (who passed away in 2016), was perplexing to some commentators but made perfect sense to both justices. In part, their friendship sprang from the admiration each felt for the other's considerable talents, as well as from their shared love of opera. But their friendship was grounded also in common values. ...
[I]f you had asked me who exemplified the value of meritocracy—of letting people compete and show what they can do—RBG ... would have been my pick. As a champion for women's rights, she showed that everyone deserved to be judged on their merits. The Declaration of Independence promised us all the right to "the pursuit of happiness"—to develop our talents and pursue our dreams. RBG urged the nation to honor this commitment to women, as well as to men. Success should be based on ability, not biology.
RBG knew firsthand the frustration of not being judged on merit. Even though she was at the top of her law school class, no one would hire her after graduation in 1959. She would joke that as a woman, a mother and a Jew, she was a triple threat.
In a conversation just over a decade ago, she repeated to me (with a wry smile) the explanation one law firm gave for not extending an offer. "We already have a woman," they told her. RBG's late husband, Marty Ginsburg, who was himself a leading tax lawyer, chimed in. "You owe them a lot, Ruth," he quipped. "If not for them, you would now be a partner at a law firm."
Along with the virtues of meritocracy and competition, RBG believed in family, a commitment also shared by conservative thinkers. Her devotion to her own family was obvious. ...
I do not mean to minimize her differences with conservatives—whether in interpretive philosophy or in her votes in some high-profile cases. But RBG herself felt that these differences were overemphasized, something she found frustrating. In countless speeches at law schools and bar associations, she observed that very few Supreme Court cases were decided by a vote of five to four, while a great many were unanimous.