Honoring the Legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
By Kellie Hale
“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) was a trailblazer for women’s rights in America. When discussing her legacy, RBG said, “To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you, that’s what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself but for one’s community.” That quote encompasses the type of person Ruth was, a champion for the those who could not defend themselves.
RBG was well-known for the work she did before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, when she served as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and became the designer of a legal strategy to bring cases to the courts that would ensure that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied to gender.
“I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer in the late 1960s when, for the first time in the history of the United States, it became possible to argue before the courts, successfully, that society would benefit enormously if women were regarded as persons equal in statue to men,” she said in a commencement speech in 2002.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter nominated Ruth to a seat on the DC circuit appeals court. She would be confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 18, 1980. She would stay on the DC circuit appeals court until August 9, 1993 when President Bill Clinton nominated by to the U.S Supreme Court, role she would hold for the next 27 years.
At the Supreme Court, she was best known for the opinion she wrote in the United States v. Virginia which held the all-male admissions policy at the state funded Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional for its ban on women applicants. Steve Vladeck, Supreme Court analyst and law professor at the University of Texas School of Law said that the decision “more than any other, epitomized the justices effort to establish true sex equality as a fundamental constitutional norm, and its effects are continuing to reverberate today.”
RBG died on September 18, 2020 in Washington D.C. after a long and tough battle with pancreatic cancer. She fought long and hard, not just for her life, but for all of us. She was a defender for the underdog, the disenfranchised, and the people viewed least important by society and was the protector for civil, social, and women’s rights. Her legacy must live on through us. Her hard work must not be brushed under the rug or pushed to the side by those willing to undermine certain civil liberties.
While RBG may no longer be with us, her memory and legacy of her anti-discrimination work will continue to live on in each of us. She stayed for as long as she could. In RBG’s name, we will continue to seek justice for all.