Ruth Bader Ginsburg Z’L, a cultural, judicial, and feminist icon, passed away on September 18, 2020. Serving as a Supreme Court Associate Justice, Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the country’s most prestigious and powerful court. From an early age, Ginsburg restlessly fought for gender equality. Previous to her nomination to the Supreme Court, she argued against gender discrimination as a lawyer. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was unique in the sense that she was a minority demanding equality, and though small in stature, her legacy stands tall today and always. With tremendous courage and a strong will, Ginsburg transformed daily life for women in and outside of the workplace.
Always living against the grain, Ginsburg demanded justice throughout her life. She studied at Harvard Law School, where she, one of nine women in a class with 500 men, was an obvious minority. Constantly accused of having stolen a man’s spot at Harvard, Ruth Bader Ginsburg faced much adversity solely because of her sex (1). Rather than letting injustice hold her back, she turned it into passion and fire, igniting her fight for equality and women’s rights. She juggled her duties as a student and her responsibilities as a new mother, epitomizing the multitasking persona of the working mom and proving that it’s possible to excel at both. Even though her husband was drafted into the army right before the birth of their daughter, leaving her as a single parent at home, she was successful in both of her roles. She maintained her grades in law school and became the first female member of the honorable Harvard Law Review– a law journal published independently by Harvard Law Students. After transferring to Columbia Law School, she participated in their law review, which added to her impressive resume of academic achievements. These experiences were remarkable for anyone at the time, let alone a woman. Even though she was incredibly successful academically, gender inequality made it immensely challenging for her to find a job after graduation. All of the tribulations Ruth Bader Ginsburg faced fueled her desire to fight for equality.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg accomplished a significant amount in her life. As the director and co-founder of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, she demanded that women be granted equal rights, as stated in the Constitution (2). Beyond just being a champion of gender equality, the Supreme Court Justice fought on behalf of all minorities, giving a voice to the country’s voiceless. Preceding 2015’s monumental Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case, built on the premise of permitting same-sex marriage across all 50 states, Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated many same-sex marriages and was a public advocate for the LGBTQ+ community (3). And, later on, her viewpoints had a powerful influence on the public and helped win the case, playing a tremendous role in the federal legalization of same-sex marriage. Moreso, Ginsburg’s participation in Sessions v. Dimaya in 2018 helped abolish the legislation that allowed non-citizens of the United States to be deported from the country. Endlessly engaging in battles on behalf of minorities, Ginsburg supported a variety of people who often are neglected.
The legacy that Ruth Bader Ginsburg left behind will live on forever; she was and continues to be an inspiration to many. Young students and mature adults alike have been motivated to act and make a change in their own communities because of her work. I was not familiar with the work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg until I saw the movie “RBG”. Even though this was the first time I was hearing about Ginsburg, I’ve remembered her name since. Immediately upon returning from the theater, I grabbed my computer and searched endlessly for the quote that had stuck to my mind from the film so I could hang it on my wall. After sending the request to the printer and retrieving the memorable quote, I grabbed tape and ran to my room. I taped the quote right next to my bed so that every time I sat in my room, I’d be reminded of the lesson that RBG taught me. The quote read, “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.” Being a lady doesn’t mean that you must submit to the requests and desires of others, rather, it means the opposite. A woman is someone who is independent and knows what is right for themselves. Instilling Ginsburg’s values in young women, this quote breeds a new generation of strong-willed female mavericks. Malvina DiMitri, an eleventh grade student, shares how Ruth Bader Ginsburg has played a role in her life, saying that “As a woman, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had an immense impact on my life. Though I wasn’t knowledgeable of the social climate in my earlier years when she was fighting for equality, I will always be eternally grateful for everything she has done for women, the LGBTQ community, and other minorities.” The effort that Ginsburg put into making changes in society for the better are everlasting and truly have revolutionized the way the modern world thinks. Although she is gone, she should not be forgotten. Dr. Rhea Schwartzberg, a faculty member, is inspired by Ginsburg and the work she did. “She is someone I admired greatly and viewed as a role model for all people who believe in Tikkun Olam, and particularly for young women. For that reason, several years ago, I bought my Israeli grandchildren the book about her life in Hebrew.” By introducing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the generations who weren’t fortunate enough to see her in action, her legacy and spirit are becoming eternal. Dr. Schwartzberg continued, “She fought all her life against gender discrimination for men and women and remained a Supreme Court justice until her death.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made a mark on the world during the time she was given, and continues to inspire change for the future. May the legacy of “Notorious” RBG live on.