September 27th, 2019
Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves remarkable legacy
TUES. | 9-29-20 | FEATURES
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, the whole country went into a state of shock. After battling several different types of cancer for the past twenty years, Ginsburg passed away due to metastatic pancreatic cancer in her home in Washington, D.C.
Serving on the Supreme Court for 27 years and the only second woman to be appointed to the position, Ginsburg served a revolutionary and unprecedented role in advocating for gender equality, workers’ rights and separation of church and state.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Ginsburg grew up in a low-income working class neighborhood. Despite early struggles including the loss of her mother during high school, Ginsburg persevered to attend college at Cornell University, earning a bachelor’s degree in government where she graduated first in her class. From here, she married her husband Martin Ginsburg and they both went on to attend law school at Harvard University. Due to her husband’s sudden onset of testicular cancer, the couple and their children, Jane and James, moved to New York City where she continued to study law at Columbia. After graduating first in her class once again, Ginsburg was forced to turn to a career in teaching following her experiences with discriminatory hiring practices widely held at law firms.
After teaching at Rutgers University Law School from 1963 to 1972, Ginsburg advanced to teach at Columbia Law, where she also involved herself through becoming director of the
Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. This position furthered her passion for gender equality, giving her a platform to eventually be appointed to the US Court of Appeals under President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Here she tried cases such as Charles E. Moritz vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue (1972), as portrayed in the 2018 film On the Basis of Sex, in which a man caring for his mother was denied a tax deduction due to his gender and unmarried status. By reversing the expectations for gender-based discrimination, Ginsburg was able to fight for equality for all genders and after serving for 13 years on the Court of Appeals, she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993 where she became the second woman to serve.
Serving under the moderately-liberal bloc of the court, Ginsburg advanced her fight for gender equality through the case United States vs. Virginia (1996), which ruled that the Virginia Military Institute could not refuse to admit women.
In another landmark case, King vs. Burwell (2015), Ginsburg sided with the majority in allowing the federal government to give subsidies to citizens through approval of Obamacare. Again, Ginsburg sided with the majority, 5-4, in the revolutionary case of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) that resulted in the federal legalization of same sex marriage.
In all of these rulings, Ginsburg has continually shown a drive and passion for justice. Even outside of Supreme Court rulings, she served to contribute to increasing financial independence for women in promoting the Equal Opportunity Act. In advocating for issues including equal pay, abortion rights and legislation including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Ginsburg has been known to stand up for her values and dissent when necessary. In the case, Bush vs. Gore, Ginsburg deterred from the expected “I respectfully dissent” declaration into the plain statement of, “I dissent.”
As an inspiration figure for many, Ginsburg has had many books and two films made about her, the first being “On the Basis of Sex,” as previously mentioned and then second being a documentary titled “The Notorious RBG.”
Throughout her life, Ginsburg strove to create opportunity for women in her ability to serve as a feminist role-model. Her life has left monumental impacts in all aspects of today’s society.
“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”