The Life and Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah is considered a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. That is who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was. She was a trailblazer, a force to be reckoned with, but most of all, she was someone who put the needs of others, and her country, in front of her own. Her story is filled with beautiful successes, but also unimaginable loss and determination. She is an inspiration to women everywhere, in life and in death. Her legacy will live on in the hearts of those she helped, and those who continue the fight to a better America.
Before she was The Notorious RBG, Ginsburg was a young woman born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Reeling from the loss of her mother just one day before her high school graduation, young Ruth Bader enrolled at Cornell University, where she met her husband, Marty Ginsburg. Both enrolled at Harvard Law school in 1956, where she was one of only nine female students.
During her second year at Harvard, Marty was diagnosed with cancer. Ruth found herself caring for a sick husband and their two-year-old daughter, Jane. Despite the hardship of the situation, Ruth pushed through and completed her work and managed to get Marty through his. This is a turning point in her life, where she learned to manage her time and problem solve efficiently, skills she would go on to use for the rest of her life.
In her career, Ruth exemplified the same determination. After Marty’s graduation from Harvard Law, Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law, where she earned her degree in 1959, but was still hard-pressed to find a job. In 1963, Ginsburg became the first woman to teach full time at Rutgers School of Law, where the dean told her that “it was only fair to pay [her] modestly, because [her] husband had a very good job”.
In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, a project urging the courts to take sex discrimination seriously. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and in 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated her to the highest court in America, the Supreme Court, where she served until her recent death.
Some of her most influential cases include Reed v. Reed (1971), which struck down favoring men over women in estate cases, United States v. Virginia (1996), a 7-1 majority ruling in favor of Virginia Military Institute’s violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and Stenberg v. Carhart (200), a landmark abortion ruling.
This is only a brief summary of the accomplishments that have earned Ginsburg the title of “Notorious RBG”. In her Later years on the bench, she became known as a liberal icon, despite her age.
Her story of perseverance has cleared a path for girls and women, and truly changed the world. In her final dictation she said “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president has been installed”. One last act of defiance to show the world that she does not trust this president, and a rallying cry for those who will continue her fight to a freer world.
Ginsburg’s death comes at a crucial point for the upcoming presidential election. The GOP and Trump Administration will try to push a rushed nomination, despite her final wish, a testament to the true intentions of those in power. Trump and Mitch Mcconnal have already publicly stated their plans to nominate a new justice, just six weeks before the election. This decision is a stark hypocrisy, especially after the Republican Party’s 11-month refusal to vote on President Obama’s supreme court nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016.
Ginsburg’s death was always going to be political. That is the reality of serving a life-long career. But to disrespect such an influential woman’s dying request is just pathetic, and it speaks to the loyalties of the Trump Administration.
We have a chance in November to make her death worth something. For it not to be meaningless. The most important way we can honor her legacy and continue her fight is to get out and vote. Mourn this monumental loss today, but tomorrow, we continue forward in the name of RBG.