CNN: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at naturalization ceremony on the anniversary of Bill of Rights signing.”

by Joseph McKeown


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently spoke at a naturalization ceremony in the rotunda of Washington D.C.’s National Archives where thirty-one men and women became new citizens. As she’s done before, Justice Ginsburg shared her own immigration story: "My own father arrived in this land at age 13 with no fortune and speaking no English,” she said. “My mother was born four months after her parents—with several children in tow—came by ship to Ellis Island. My father and my grandparents reached, as you do, for the American dream." She asked the attendees: “What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York City's Garment District and a Supreme Court Justice? One generation.”

In her remarks, Justice Ginsburg remained optimistic, noting that "new Americans of every race and creed” make “ever more vibrant our national motto E Pluribus Unum, out of many one," and also reminded the new citizens that their vital role in the strive for a “more perfect union” involves “first and foremost voting in elections.” Justice Ginsburg also noted that "though we have made huge progress, the work of perfection is scarcely done.”

Justice Ginsburg is known for her inspirational speeches and presided over another naturalization ceremony earlier this year. In April, Ginsburg shared with the 201 newly minted citizens her own stories about being the daughter of a Russian immigrant father, and spoke of her family’s experience as a “testament to our nation’s promise.” Mamadou Alpha Diallo, a twenty-five-year-old immigrant from Guinea, told the New York Daily News that, after hearing her speak, he “felt so special” and that he felt “like I’m in my own country now.

In her remarks at the most recent naturalization ceremony, the eighty-five-year-old justice quoted the French political theorist, Alexis de Tocqueville, stating that America's strength "lies not in being more enlightened than other nations, but rather in her ability to repair her faults."  To that end, she said: “Many stains remain. In this rich land, nearly a quarter of our children live in poverty, nearly half of our citizens do not vote, and we still struggle to achieve greater understanding and appreciation of each other across racial, religious and socioeconomic lines. Yet, we strive to realize the ideal to become a more perfect union.”