The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Live On

She was a champion for women and girls.

Sep 21, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg or RBG as she is known today,  became a heroine for girls when she became the second woman US Supreme Court justice in June 1993. But her commitment to gender equality and justice goes back a lot longer. This legend passed away on September 18, 2020 at age 87 on the eve of the Jewish new year, but her legacy and work will live on.

“Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts told National Public Radio. “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.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she attended Cornell University at 17, graduated and married Marty Ginsburg. She had her first child and  then attended law school at Harvard and Columbia while a young mother.

After law school, when it was still rare for women to work for law firms, she went into teaching becoming  a professor of civil procedure at Rutgers law School and Columbia Law School, something that was very rare for women at the time.  Ginsburg spent most of her legal career as a strong advocate for gender equality and women’s rights.

This was at a time when state and federal laws barred women from jobs, rights and even serving on a jury according to NPR. But due to Ginsburg’s breaking the glass ceiling in law, she received her first judicial appointment in 1980, something that was not possible when she graduated from law school. Becoming a Supreme Court Justice was absolutely unthinkable.

Her influence on the supreme Court began early on. In fact, she wrote the 1996 court’s 7-1 opinion declaring that the Virginia Military Institute could no longer refuse to admit women if they met the rigorous demands of the institution.

“Reliance on overbroad generalizations ... estimates about the way most men or most women are, will not suffice to deny opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description,” Ginsburg wrote.

Ginsberg’s decisions changed the face of America according to CNN. In 2015, she led court in the decision that allowed same-sex marriage in the US.

Described as “tough as nails” she became a rock star to girls and women while in her 80s. A documentary was made of her life, a book was written about her, as well as an operetta and she  received the “Notorious R.B.G.” moniker that was featured on a Time Magazine cover.

“It makes absolute sense that Justice Ginsburg has become an idol for younger generations,” Justice Elena Kagan said at an event at the New York Bar Association in 2014. “Her impact on America and American law has been extraordinary.

“As a litigator and then as a judge, she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law,” Kagan said. “She can take credit for making the law of this country work for women and in doing so she made possible my own career.”

Ginsburg suffered five bouts of cancer and she continued to work on the supreme court to safeguard the rights of women, workers, and the downtrodden. Her cancer reoccurred earlier in 2020 when a biopsy showed lesions on her liver.

“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she said in a statement to CNN in July 2020. “I remain fully able to do that.” And she did up until the end dying of pancreatic cancer surrounded by family.

Although tiny in stature, and soft spoken, her legal decisions helped her roar. Her legacy will live on in all the young girls that can now know that they too can grow-up and become anything they want to be.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
50 Famous Firsts in American Women's History
How to Build Gender Balance on International Women’s Day 2019
5 Girl Scouts Projects Around the World That Empower Girls and Women

BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.