WI Supreme Court justices say Ginsburg was a 'role model,' emphasized importance of election

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Two female justices who sit on Wisconsin's highest court name the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a personal inspiration to them.

"When I first found out about her death ... it just shook me. It is a loss of everyone regardless of politics and how you feel about her decisions," said Justice Rebecca Dallet of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Dallet and fellow Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky, two liberal justices on the court, spoke with CBS 58 during a Zoom call on Sat, Sept. 19. They called Ginsburg a "role model" and said she helped pave the way for female leaders in the judicial system, including themselves.

"Justice Ginsburg was appointed, but it made it a lot easier for me to make the decision to run and to think that I could be a Supreme Court justice when you see all the things she did," Karofsky said.

Karofsky also noted similarities between herself, Dallet and Ginsburg saying that they were all mothers with daughters. They said her legacy will be about equality.

"She saw injustice and she sought out ways to make it right," Dallet said.

When CBS 58 asked about how landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions such as Roe v. Wade will be affected by Ginsburg's death, Karofsky emphasized the importance of the upcoming election.

"Let me put it this way: The courts matter. The United States Supreme Court matters. The Wisconsin State Supreme Court matters. These institutions and the decisions that they make influence impact, every single person in this country," Karofsky said. "Every single seat on the court makes a difference when someone comes in. And when someone leaves, the court changes."

Dallet echoed her comments, saying, "We are about to elect a president, which is very important, and we all need to be involved and make a plan to vote."

During a "Get Out the Vote" rally for Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden on Saturday, Milwaukee city leaders also reacted to Ginsburg's passing.

"Obviously, she will be missed on the Supreme Court, but more importantly, she'll be missed in our country because of her leadership. But her passing underscores, again, how important this election is," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson noted the significance of Ginsburg's relationship with her fellow Justice Antonin Scalia, and said she leaves behind quite a legacy.

"She was an icon, she was a jurist, she was a justice and she inspired so many millions of women and girls, and boys and men alike," Johnson said.

Barrett and Johnson called Senate Republicans "hypocritical" when asked about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's statement saying President Donald Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the U.S. Senate floor.

"Here we are some 50 days before the election, and now the head of the Senate is going diametrically opposite of what he said just four years ago. There is nothing more hypocritical than that," Barrett said.

But he said he's not concerned Ginsburg's death will turn 2020 into a single-issue election focusing solely on abortion and women's reproductive rights.

"No, I don't think so because there are so many places where President Trump has failed. I think he's going to go down in history as the worst president of the United States in his handling of the coronavirus," Barrett said.

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