Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can be described in many ways: a civil rights activist, feminist, pop icon, and political pioneer are just a few to name. Above all, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg embodied everything that American democracy is supposed to strive toward, pressing for equality for everyone regardless of race, gender, social orientation, or socioeconomic standing.
Ginsburg wrote opinions that advocated for both gender and racial equality. In the United States v. Virginia, her majority opinion deemed the Virginia Military Institute’s exclusion of qualified women from admission solely because of sex unconstitutional. Her oral dissent in Ledbetter v. Goodyear rejected a pay discrimination case on a technicality and pushed Congress and President Barack Obama to sign equal pay legislation in 2009. She defended women’s reproductive freedom in several situations and supported gay marriage. Through her dissent in Shelby County v. Holder, she captured the imagination of a new generation. Admirers, inspired by her fierceness, called her the “Notorious RBG.”
Justice Ginsburg loved the law; she believed in the importance of fair trial and had broad knowledge, which she enhanced through reading and research. She carefully reviewed regulations that she thought were based on unsupported stereotypes. She applied her analytical mind not only to large, general issues, but also to protect individuals from unfair treatment.
Her openness about her personal life has allowed others to dream of paths that combine work with loving family and friends. She showed that tradition did not need to determine family roles.
Justice Ginsburg had a rare combination of intelligence, wisdom, compassion, and interpersonal skills. Her connections to the lived lives of people is seen in her judicial decisions; for example, her dissent in Lily Ledbetter’s case described workplace “realities” in which gendered compensation disparities “are often hidden from sight.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has touched the world in immeasurable ways, and while we mourn her death, through fair legal processes and advocating for equal rights, we honor her life and legacy in the field she loved for so long.
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