“Reflections on Imperfection” by Pedrick Lecturer
Dean Patricia White, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Professor Martin Ginsburg, Jo Ann Pedrick, Sara Pedrick, Margo Pedrick, and Camille Pedrick Chavez
Imperfection is the natural and inevitable state of our world, Martin D. Ginsburg, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, told a crowd of nearly 200 faculty members, students and staff this week at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. But learning to anticipate and plan for bad things can eventually result in new opportunities that we likely wouldn’t have predicted, Ginsburg said during his address, “Some Reflections on Imperfection,’ at the 12th annual Willard H. Pedrick Lecture. “In an imperfect world, it is foolish, indeed irrational, to believe that goodness and merit will reliably achieve a desired outcome,” said the Washington, D.C., lawyer. “It is wiser to look around corners, to anticipate what can go wrong and to plan on that eventuality just in case. “In an imperfect world, serious things do go seriously wrong. Stuff happens. As a rational person, you would not embark on a course unless you had first thought hard about what might go wrong and had planned an appropriate response.” The lecture, which honors the memory of Pedrick, the founding dean of the College of Law, was attended by his widow, Jo Ann, his two daughters, Margo Pedrick, and Sara Pedrick, and his granddaughter, Camille Pedrick Chavez. Ginsburg, husband of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was introduced by her former colleague, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. O’Connor said Ginsburg not only is the nation’s best tax expert, he also is a superb cook who early in his marriage divided the household duties with his wife – he prepared the meals, and she cleaned up after. “The most coveted invitation in Washington, D.C., is to a lunch or dinner cooked by Marty Ginsburg and me,” O’Connor said. “We have done that a time or two, and believe me, it’s dazzling.” During his address, Ginsburg shared three stories – all involving his wife and one including O’Connor, too. The women had much in common – they were well-educated and had graduated at the top of their law school classes, but no law firms would hire them after graduation, he said. “Was it a good thing or a bad thing?” Ginsburg asked. “If Ruth and Sandra had gone to work for law firms in the `50s and stayed the private-sector course, I have no doubt today each would be wealthy, unknown and long-retired senior partners. “No one could know that rejection by conventional law firms ultimately would prove for these unique individuals to be an amazingly good thing.” In 1979, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wanted an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit, but instead she ended up on the bench in the District of Columbia Circuit. “If Ruth had served on the Second Circuit, I do not know her success would have been so noteworthy as to attract a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said. Finally, that unduly lengthy nomination process was far from perfect, involving Ginsburg himself, who lobbied for his wife with national women’s groups that didn’t support her and with a politician, who doubted her. Ultimately, an old friend in academia sealed the deal with President Clinton, and she joined the high court in 1993. “It has been said, `Wisdom should not be denigrated merely because it comes late, because it comes so seldom’,” Ginsburg said. In opening the lecture, Patricia White, Dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, predicted Pedrick, whom she called “beloved, innovative and quite extraordinary,” would have enjoyed Ginsburg’s address. Jo Ann Pedrick agreed. “It was a lot of fun and so interesting to hear about how Supreme Court justices are nominated,” Mrs. Pedrick said. “He (Willard) would have definitely enjoyed it; he was quite a comedian himself.”
A video file of the event (in Windows Media Video - WMV) can be accessed HERE.