It is not often that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has cracked a jurisprudential vitae as remarkable and ambitious as the ones that have emerged in the last year or so. The odds against her achieving her main goal of seeing the list of national and state judicial vacancies reduced to less than 1,000: eliminated.

Ginsburg has a keen grasp of cases, a philosophical firmness, and a candor rarely afforded to virtually any other Justices. She is thus not merely the court’s swing vote in liberal cases, but the one that is deciding the majority (and every dispute) of liberal or conservative issues. She takes the opinion in each one (if any), only sometimes in dissent, sometimes, occasionally, but always with requisite independence.

The same is true of dissent. She is also the judge who has the most vivid, spontaneous and unadorned letters in the court—it would be hard to name another appellate nominee in this period whose descriptions were so well described and unforgettable.