Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Rest In Power

Carolyn Leighton and Ellie Ebby

September 21, 2020

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated 1st in her 1959 class from Columbia Law School. She had said she had 3 strikes against her: being a woman, Jewish, and a mother. In fact, she received not one job offer from any law firm when she graduated.

According to a documentary about RBG, it took her law school professor to tell a Justice that he would never send him another clerk unless he hired law school graduate Ginsburg as his clerk - and so he did.

There were so many remarkable aspects to Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, but, in my opinion, what made her especially effective was the smart, strategic approach she took to achieve her goals. For example, when she successfully argued gender bias to an all-male Supreme Court, she carefully chose a case that involved gender bias against a man, knowing it would be so much easier to overcome the conscious and unconscious bias held by male Justices on the Supreme Court.

In 1993, when President Clinton was searching for someone to fill an opening on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's name was not on his preliminary list. It was her husband, Marty, who lobbied influencers to get her name on the list and then appointed to the Supreme Court - Marty knew how brilliant his wife was and felt she would contribute so much to our country.

In the words of our most treasured, compassionate dissenter herself, "Dissents speak to a future age. It's not simply to say, 'My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.' But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that's the dissenter's hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow." Immediately following the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that invalidated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that the tomorrow of our nation will be in jeopardy, a future that has become all the more frightening now that we face it without Ginsburg's sharp genius and unparalleled dedication present on the bench of the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg's inspiring fight to push the Constitution's concern regarding civil rights and women's rights to a higher standard has become synonymous with the act of justice at its very core. Before Ginsburg entered the scene, discrimination on the basis of sex was not in conversation with the Constitution (and therefore not taken seriously) due to the fact that an outline of women's rights is strikingly absent from the nation's most powerful document. Ginsburg played this forced male perspective at its own game, taking on cases in which men were discriminated against in ways that women were not. This cleverness is what forced the 14th Amendment to be held accountable in protecting all citizens from discrimination based on sex in addition to its formerly established protection from discrimination based on race.

Though the task of finding a means grand enough to truly thank RBG may always remain incomplete, we can each take on mere portions of the weight that she so heroically carried on her unfaltering shoulders by voting this election and continuing the uphill battle against voter suppression.

I encourage each of you to study Justice Ginsburg -- read her biography, her story, watch documentaries and movies about her -- to be inspired by a giant dedicated to achieving her goals regardless of the blocks she encountered. I have no doubt you will be inspired to do the same.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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