Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Made An Impact On Some Women In Wyoming

Sep 25, 2020


The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg certainly has some political repercussions, but for many women who followed her career, her impact will be long lasting. That's the case for many women who practice law in Wyoming.

One of those is Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Lynne Boomgaarden

"Justice Ginsburg was certainly one for me as a young woman and young attorney who set the example that there are no limits and we can do things."

Boomgaarden has certainly done things. She is the former director of the Office of State Lands and Investments and even became the first woman to serve on the Cheyenne Frontier Days General Committee. Boomgaarden said while Justice Ginsburg did a lot for women, her work as an attorney on discrimation issues is as important as her time on the Supreme Court. Boomgaarden added that a lot of the laws and policies we have today were due to that early work.

"For me her importance as a champion is more for diversity generally, you know above and beyond gender equality. But she's a champion for diversity," said Boomgaarden.

Casper Attorney Anna Olson first became aware of Justice Ginsburg while in high school. She said Ginsburg's approach of chipping away at an issue led to bigger successes later. She noted that there is no greater example than her efforts on same-sex discrimination.

"Those little cases would build on each other. So by the time we were ready for the gay rights marriage case, America was ready for it. She didn't just take that case out of the shoot," said Olson. "So I think she really was brilliant in her fight for equality as well."

Olson said she remembers as a teenager reading an article where Ginsburg discussed the importance of women being independent.

"I took that as meaning that I could go out there and get a job and be completely independent and I don't need to be relying on my spouse or my partner to provide for me because I will be able to take care of myself. And that really was a profound moment for me," said Olson.

Laramie Attorney Dona Playton is the community municipal judge. She said Justice Ginsburg impacted her work in many ways. Playton established the UW College of Law Family and Child legal advocacy clinic and has done a lot of work with the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Playton is someone who mentors a number of young attorneys and she hopes that they understand what doors Justice Ginsburg opened.

"I think there's a disconnect sometimes between understanding that this happened in my lifetime that women were given rights that men always had. And I just don't know if younger lawyers appreciate that, both men and women," said Playton.

While there is still work to be done, Playton noted that the Wyoming Supreme Court has more women than men sitting on its bench, and about half of UW's Law school graduating classes have women in them. She attributes that to efforts by people like Justice Ginsburg.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Bob Beck, at btwo@uwyo.edu.