People are pissed about Ruth Bader Ginsburg coming to Notre Dame

The women’s rights activist, Supreme Court justice and ‘abortion cheerleader’ will speak to a packed venue on Monday

Discontent is brewing once again over one of Notre Dame’s upcoming guest speakers. Some students are angry. Hundreds of alumni and South Bend locals voiced their dissent in Facebook comments beneath the announcement.

I personally am baffled.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first female member of the Harvard Law Review, Columbia’s first female tenured professor and director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, deserves nothing but respect and an open ear regardless of your beliefs.

This is a woman who was told she and the eight other women in her law school class of over 500 had taken valuable spots from male applicants.

This is a woman who graduated first in her class from Columbia Law School while raising a daughter.

This is a revolutionary, pivotal figure in the history of the Supreme Court, someone who I am honored to hear speak. And yet some people deny the immense importance of her visit to campus.

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While the official university Facebook announcement of the talk has garnered over 1,000 likes and less than 40 “angry” reactions, the comments section is far more active than the average New York Times article or speaker announcement. The comments reveal a high level of engagement from current students, alumni and even football fans. There are few one-off comments, with most statements generating longer debate threads.

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Some current students and commenters have shown an understanding of Notre Dame’s decision to invite a speaker some view as inherently opposed to Catholic beliefs. Others spewed hatred and ignorance directly onto the comment thread, with no attempt to understand the reasoning behind the institution’s choice.

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Justice Ginsburg has often been accused of being “pro-abortion,” a completely false term coined to paint pro-choice advocates as evil monsters who demand every woman have an abortion. The term is incredibly offensive, not just to pro-choice advocates but to any woman who has ever had an abortion-it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of women’s rights and abortion in general. Ginsburg will likely touch on her pro-choice views during Monday’s talk with U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ann Claire Williams.

Many of the negative comments stem from either a misconception of abortion or a failure to acknowledge the role of a university in shaping and challenging the beliefs of its students.

For a Catholic institution, Notre Dame does an excellent job of also fulfilling its role as an institution of higher learning, a place where all opinions can be heard and discussed. The university granted President Obama an honorary degree in 2009. Vice President Joe Biden spoke at commencement last year alongside former Speaker of the House John Boehner. Both were presented with the Laetare Medal, the most prestigious award given to outstanding American Catholics.

Biden is also pro-choice, a view which Catholics do not support. But Notre Dame is capable of recognizing the complexity of a human being. Biden and Ginsburg’s views on abortion are not the sum of their persons.

Justice Ginsburg will likely provide a thought-provoking and powerful talk on Monday, and I can only hope that the majority of Notre Dame students, alumni and fans will come to the realization that one divisive issue is not reason to protest a visit from a key player in history.

Thankfully, the dissenting voices are met with numbers: due to incredibly high demand, Notre Dame has temporarily suspended ticket reservations for the event.

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