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NOSSCR Mourns the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  September 21, 2020 | By NOSSCR

NOSSCR joins the country in mourning the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer for gender equality.

During Ginsburg’s early years as a lawyer, the Social Security Act contained several sections applicable only to one gender. In Weinberger vs Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975) Ginsburg successfully argued that the gender-based distinction under 42 U.S.C. § 402(g) of the Social Security Act of 1935—which permitted widows but not widowers to collect benefits while caring for minor children—violated the right to equal protection secured by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Throughout her lifetime, Justice Ginsburg remained friendly with Stephen Wisenfeld, who spoke at her confirmation hearing after her nomination to the Supreme Court. In 2014 she officiated at his second marriage. In Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199 (1977) Ginsburg convinced the Court that 42 USC Section 402, which required a widower to have been receiving half his support from his wife at the time of her death but did not impose this requirement on widows was also an unconstitutional violation of the Due Process clause.

Justice Ginsburg wrote the unanimous or majority opinion for several Social Security cases including Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, (2002) which held that the reasonableness of the parties contract, and not the lodestar method is the appropriate method for calculating a reasonable attorney’s fee under 42 USC §406(b); Black & Decker Disability Plan v. Nord, 538 U.S. 822 (2003) which held that the Social Security’s treating physician rule is not applicable in ERISA cases; and Astrue v. Capato, 566 U.S. 541132 S.Ct. 2021, 182 L.Ed 887 (2012) which held that posthumously conceived children who can inherit under the laws of intestacy of the state where their deceased father was domiciled at the time of death can meet the Social Security Act’s definition of “child” under 42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(2)(A) and be eligible to receive survivor’s benefits.

Several NOSSCR members have argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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