The New Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In case you don’t know her, Ruth Bader Ginsberg fought the male-dominated society from a young age. During the mid-century, RBG was chastised for taking spot at law school, where a man could have thrived. With her extreme intelligence and zest, she fought gender discrimination in court, taught at Columbia University, and soon became the second woman to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Although RBG will have a lasting effect on our society, Elena Kagan, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court appointed by Barack Obama, is heading towards RBG status. 

The New Yorker describes her as, “she is not a liberal icon like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but, through her powers of persuasion, she’s the key Justice holding back the Court’s rightward shift.” When you think of political icons, Elena Kagan doesn’t ring a bell. There haven’t been movies, books, or awards in her honor. She respectfully keeps a low-profile. She is well respected by the other Justices as well as those in the legal field. Kagan delivers her dissents with power and persuasion so strong that people know when there’s a serious issue in the court case. 

Nine people at a time hold this job, this power. For Kagan to be serving with many who have opposing views, she holds her head with grace. She knows the correct things to say in the public sector, carefully avoiding the negative press. She speaks up strongly when the time is right. In The New Yorker article, this is described as a lonely job, one that only eight other people understand. If one strongly opposes any other of the group, there will be a very lonesome few decades. This acts as a reminder to hold your views and beliefs fully, while respecting those of others. It’s difficult to be in a room with people who also have power and challenge their views appropriately. I can’t imagine having a job where nobody understands what you go through on a daily basis except the eight other people you work with. 

Although Kagan differs from Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the sense that Kagan does not have to face the gender discrimination that RBG has experienced, they both create the same symbol – a strong woman in power. Different times call for different actions. While RBG was younger, she fought against the discrimination of women in the workplace. Presently, Kagan supports many cases of gay rights. Some say that there is no comparison between the two women because of this difference in experience. I disagree. Both have contributed so much to our society, making it more accepting to marginalized groups. Although not replacing RBG, Elena Kagan stands up with her as an icon working on our nation’s most controversial Supreme Court cases.