A Tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Isabel S. Wedll, Online Editor

September 22nd, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg photographed in 1977 (Photo Courtesy of Lynn Gilbert / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) )

I sat at my dining room table, typing up my anatomy homework when I heard the ping of my phone. A text message from my father reading, “RBG.” That had meant only one thing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. I immediately Googled her name to confirm my suspicion. And there it was, a New York Times headline stating “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court’s Feminist Icon, Is Dead at 87”. All I could do was screenshot the headline and send it to my family and friends. 

We were left speechless. Personally, I could not handle this news. The woman keeping justice in this country alive died. Unfortunately, I perceive that a majority of us had been waiting for a headline like the one on September 18th. But a little hope and optimism was still being held out for the esteemed RBG. 2020 just can not seem to get better, can it? RBG may be gone, but what she leaves behind is a grand legacy, and a broken glass ceiling. 

A Brooklyn born and bred woman of working-class parents grew to be the second woman appointed as a Supreme Court Justice. 

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said. 

In 1954, RBG graduated first in her class from Cornell University. That same year, she married Martin Ginsburg who was then drafted into the military. Their first child, Jane, was born in 1955. Jane would later follow in her parents footsteps and become a lawyer. 

After Ginsburg’s discharge, the couple attended Harvard University together. There a balance in motherhood and the life of a law student was RBG’s priority. 

“She also encountered a very male-dominated, hostile environment, with only eight other females in her class of more than 500,” Biography.com stated. Even with the harsh environment and her husband being diagnosed with testicular cancer, RBG persevered. 

Her husband recovered, graduated, and was hired at a New York City law firm. Bader Ginsburg followed him, transferring to Columbia University. 

“Despite her excellent credentials, she struggled to find employment as a lawyer, because of her gender and the fact that she was a mother,” Aaron M. Houck and Brian P. Smentkowski wrote. Eventually she was hired as a clerkship for Judge Edmund Palmieri of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

From 1972 to 1980, RBG became the first woman tenured professor at Columbia Law School. During the 1970s she was also a prominent figure and lawyer in the second wave of feminism, the first starting in 1850. 

“The ACLU Women’s Rights Project was born in 1972 under Ginsburg’s leadership, in order to remove these barriers and open these opportunities,” the American Civil Liberties Union stated. She worked on the Equal Rights Amendment with her fellow feminists at the ACLU.

“The amendment would eliminate the historical impediment to unqualified judicial recognition of equal rights and responsibilities for men and women as constitutional principle,” RBG had said. “And it would serve as a clear statement of the nation’s moral and legal commitment to a system in which women and men stand as full and equal individuals before the law.”

President Jimmy Carter appointed RBG to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980. Thirteen years later, she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has participated in some of this country’s most historic rulings, which has led her to her nickname, ‘The Notorious RBG”. Whether it’s saving the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) or legalizing Same-Sex Marriage, she was there voting in favor of justice. Without her presence, a hole is left in this country. To the trailblazer, the destroyer of glass ceilings, and a warrior for justice in the courtroom, we thank you. 

Rest in Power.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg died at the age of 87 in Washington D.C. on September 18th, 2020.