Columbia University Law Professor Gillian Metzger Meets With Students and Faculty
Julian Corbett

Last Wednesday, the Prep School welcomed a special guest: Columbia Law School professor, constitutional law scholar and CGPS parent Gillian Metzger. Recently, Professor Metzger co-authored a piece for The New York Times, “Her Black Coffee Always Brewed Strong,” about her time as a law clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. During her visit last week, Professor Metzger took the opportunity to share her experiences as a clerk for Justice Ginsburg with the Prep School students.

One of the most distinctive aspects of clerking for Justice Ginsburg, Professor Metzger recalled, was the meticulousness of the edits she made to her clerks’ writing. “I’m sure all of you have sometimes gotten papers back from your teachers where there are some comments,” Professor Metzger said. “Most of the time when you got a draft back from the justice, every word was changed. That could be pretty daunting, but she’d sit down with us and explain her changes; she gave such care to every word that she used.” 

Professor Metzger also answered student questions about issues in the news surrounding the Supreme Court, such as proposals to add new members to the court or impose term limits on the justices. She also offered an appraisal of the pop culture phenomenon Justice Ginsburg became late in life, “the Notorious RBG.” Professor Metzger said she felt, in some ways, that the unlikely superstardom Justice Ginsburg attained was a testament to the need for term limits. “Fun as that is,” she said, “it may not be great if the personalities of the justices take over the court as a whole, because you want justice to be blind and not driven by particular personalities or views.” 

In the end, Professor Metzger said Justice Ginsburg had been an inspiration for the work she did before becoming a celebrity. “For me, she was already an icon because of the work she had done before joining the court, as an advocate for women’s equality.”

You can watch the full visit with Professor Metzger here.

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