We recently lost a truly inspirational woman who paved the way for change in her native U.S.A. and encouraged so many more women around the world to go after their dreams and aspirations.
In recent years, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was more commonly associated with the moniker ‘The Notorious R.B.G.’. This title not only gave her considerable urban swag, but introduced her to a new generation in dire need of a hero. Her face and quotes adorn many dormitory walls, t-shirts, mugs and other paraphernalia. Ginsberg seemingly embraced her new-found popularity with good grace and tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg served as a professor before entering the justice arena as an advocate for gender equality and women’s rights and volunteering for the ACLU. Serving as Supreme Court Justice from 1993, she was the 2nd woman in history to hold this position. Immensely proud of her Jewish upbringing, she was also the first Jewish woman to serve.
“I have the good fortune of coming from a culture that prides learning, that thrives on arguing. I am tremendously fortunate to be part of that heritage.”Ruth Bader Ginsburg
One of the most influential ‘Supremes’
At 87 years of age, she had well and truly given back to her country through her legal service. Justice Ginsberg was a fierce advocate for human rights. Her influence is evident in:
- the reversal of obstructions for women entering the military based on their gender (United States v Virginia, 1996)
- the case awarding same sex couples the legal right to marry in all 50 States (Obergefell v Hodges, 2015), and
- the protection of rights for people with mental disabilities to live an integrated life in their communities (Olmstead v. LC, 1999), to name a few of her most famous rulings.
As Supremes came and went, she became the more liberal amongst her conservative colleagues. She fought vehemently for the equitable treatment for women, free exercise of religion, the separation of Church and State, and championed gender and racial equality. Her dissents were legendary as she criticised her colleagues’ opinions and stated her point of view emphatically. She did so in such a way that some of her opponents became close personal friends.
“Renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one’s colleagues or different points of view. Her opinions… have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds.”White House Official Statement
Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes her final journey
Following Justice Ginsberg’s funeral, her body lay in repose at the Supreme Court. She then lay in state at the U.S. Capitol building, the first time this honour was bestowed upon a woman. Notably, it was also the first time since 1930 a Justice had received this honour. Her fellow Supreme Court Justices paid their respects while her former law clerks served as honorary pallbearers for her flag-draped casket. It was a sign of respect and a tribute to her standing amongst the legal fraternity.
Justice Ginsberg was interred at Arlington National Cemetery last week, where she is laid to rest alongside her beloved husband, Marty. After 56 years of marriage, their union was a true partnership which could be envied by many. Martin Ginsburg was a successful tax lawyer in his own right. He supported his wife by lobbying for her to be appointed as Supreme Court Justice when President Clinton sought nominees. After being appointed, he moved his law practice to the nation’s capital, stepping aside so she could shine. He passed in 2010, following his own fight with cancer. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is survived by her children and grandchildren.
Rest In Peace, RBG.