The Legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, born in March of 1933, was a powerful force in both the Supreme Court and in her personal life. Ginsburg supported her brother through college; graduated high school, college and law school; and raised her first child while Martin Ginsburg, her husband, served in the military. She was the second woman nominated to sit on the Supreme Court and held her position for 27 years.

Ginsburg led a full life, with hardships and triumphs that all shaped her into the person she was. Adversity did not deter her; rather, it challenged her to be better than before and to achieve her goals, regardless of what others said about her. She was one of nine women that attended Harvard Law School in 1956 and graduated from Columbia Law in 1959. Despite her obvious accomplishments and knowledge, Ginsburg was regularly the victim of sexism, gender-based discrimination and lower wages, yet these negatives gave her the fuel to fight for civil rights and stand tall in the face of defeat.

When Ginsburg began her adult life, she was a consistent advocate for equality for women, recently earning the nickname “The Notorious RBG” because of her fierce spirit and strong opinions that regularly were in discussion before and after her nomination. Justice Ginsburg did many wonderful things in her life, but perhaps the most impressive was her consistency at the Supreme Court while undergoing cancer treatments. Her tenacity is admirable, regardless of what side of the aisle you stand with. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg 2016 portrait Photo by Supreme Court of the United States distributed under a public domain license

Ginsburg was a consistent liberal vote from the Supreme Court bench, so now all eyes are on the election in November and the decisions made about the nomination in the Senate. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has been vocal about his desire to fill the seat prior to the election, which some argue is not constitutional. Regardless of constitutionality, Ginsburg said days before her death, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

President Trump announced that he plans on replacing Justice Ginsburg with a woman, the question still standing is, who? There has been recent speculation as to who is on the short list, but the nominee is predicted to further tilt the court towards conservative decisions in the future. Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa and Allison Jones Rushing have been mentioned as front runners. Since the constitution only states that the president nominates and the Senate approves, it is up to our elected officials in Congress to make the decision regarding who takes Justice Ginsburg’s seat. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg sign Photo by Susan Melkisethian distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

As we remember Justice Ginsburg and her contributions to history, many remember her frequent dissents, victories and iconic quotes, but most of all, her dedication to her work, regardless of her personal struggles and illnesses. Her legacy has set the bar very high for those who wish to sit on the Supreme Court, setting the stage for an even more interesting election in November. Justice Ginsburg will be remembered as a tenacious, creative and intelligent woman who changed the lives of many through her work for equality. As the next nominee for the Supreme Court heads towards confirmation hearings, we will be witnessing a new chapter in history unfolding right before our eyes. May Justice Ginsburg’s memory be a blessing as we move forward.    

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