FACT CHECK: Did Ruth Bader Ginsburg Support Lowering ‘The Age Of Consent For Sex To 12’?
A viral Instagram post claims the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wanted to “lower the age of consentfor (sic) sex to 12.”
View this post on Instagram
Ginsburg did not advocate for lowering the age of consent to 12 years old in a report she co-authored in 1977.
In the “Sex Bias in the U.S. Code” report Ginsburg co-authored in 1977, she pointed to S. 1400, a 1973 Senate bill that failed to become law, as an example of sex-neutral language in sexual offenses. The bill stipulated that a person would be found guilty of such crimes if they forced another person – not just a female – into sex using physical force, threats or intoxicants, or if the victim is “less than 12 years old,” according to its text. It did not seek to make a federal age of consent of 12 years old.
The claim that she advocated for lowering the age of consent was first levied against Ginsburg during Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1993 that would eventually lead to her confirmation as the second woman to hold a seat on the Supreme Court. Legal Affairs Analyst Thomas L. Jipping used Ginsburg’s argument in “Sex Bias in the U.S. Code,” to claim Ginsburg’s “social vision, as outlined in this report, includes: Drafting women, and sending them into combat. Legalizing prostitution, which she believes is protected by the Constitution. Lowering the age of consent for sexual acts to 12 years,” per the congressional record. Susan Hirschmann, executive director of the think tank the Eagle Forum, also made the same claim in official testimony during a hearing on Ginsburg’s nomination.
However, Ginsburg’s report did not advocate for lowering the age of consent to 12 years old. In her analysis of some federal statutes, Ginsburg argued that defining crimes with language that only applies to women, such as defining rape as “an act of sexual intercourse with a female not his wife, by force or without her consent” fails to “comply with the equal rights principle.” She said such non-gender-neutral wording “[fails] to recognize that women of all ages are not the only targets of sexual assault; men and boys can also be victims of rape.” (RELATED: Did Ruth Bader Ginsburg Tweet About ‘Information That Will Lead To The Arrest Of Hillary Clinton’?)
The report does not advocate for lowering the age of consent, but rather that gender-neutral language should be used in legislation. Despite that being the case, the false claim that she advocated for such a thing resurfaced after Ginsburg died on Friday from complications of pancreatic cancer.