Today, associate justices of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor ’76 and Elena Kagan ’81 will take the stage to have what the University has labeled a conversation. The esteemed alumnae will be joined by Dean of Yale Law School Heather Gerken ’91 and our general counsel, Ramona Romero. At the same time, the U.S. Senate will likely be voting on President Trump’s second nominee for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
In our special insert today, our reporters have covered an anti-Kavanaugh rally in Palmer Square, and we interviewed Princeton’s first alumna Nobel laureate, Frances Arnold ’79. Our columnists have shared painful stories of overcoming sexual assault, as well as women taking up space and speaking up.
Women at Princeton have achieved remarkable progress around the world. Justices Sotomayor and Kagan influence the lives of women — and all Americans — through their jurisprudence. Their example encourages young women to use their own voices.
“There will be enough women on the Supreme Court when there are nine,” Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said.
Women like the justices matriculated to a university rife with discrimination. Today, Princeton can boast of significant progress, yet we know the work continues.
I, and so many other women across campus, stand on their shoulders. In the last few years, women have assumed some of the highest campus leadership positions. This year, nine of 11 eating club presidents are women, as is our Undergraduate Student Government president, Rachel Yee ’19. Last year, the undergraduate student body elected Princeton’s first black woman president, Myesha Jemison ’18.
When Sotomayor and Kagan convene on the stage today, they do so in an environment subsumed by the looming vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Throughout this confirmation process, President Trump and members of the Senate have used the bully pulpit to mock women’s voices and quiet their ascension.
Yet across the country women refuse to be silenced. The event with Sotomayor and Kagan today is billed as a conversation, but it is more than a casual exchange or a play on our Orange and Black heritage. She roars. Her voice is not small or quiet or easily ignored. It is louder than a conversation. It’s an assertion of woman’s voice where before it was habitually disregarded.
Today – or whenever the Kavanaugh vote is – we will see how the women and men of the Senate vote. But every day we will see what we, the women of Princeton, do for our world, and in the service of humanity.
Marcia Brown is a history major from Shaker Heights, Ohio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Marcia_Brown9 with any questions.