RBG: The Life and Legacy
Maggie Buckley, Copy Editor
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. Although she is known to many as a feminist icon now, when she was in high school, she looked just like any other traditional woman.
However, this all changed with the passing of her mother, Celia.
Ginsburg lost her mother the day before her high school graduation, a loss that changed the projection of her life. Celia sacrificed her education for that of her brother, so her daughter set out to live the sort of life that she could have only dreamed about.
And that she did.
From high school, RBG went on to attend Cornell University on scholarship. It was there she met the love of her life, Martin Ginsburg, a man who she said was the first to admire her mind.
From there, she went on to Harvard Law School.
She was one of only nine women in her class, fighting to learn alongside more than 500 men. She was talked down to because of her gender, being told that she should be ashamed of taking a man’s spot at the school and should instead be at home with her child.
As if dealing with this was not challenging enough, Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer during her first year. However, she refused to be discouraged, helping him stay on track with his studies while remaining at the top of her class.
Soon after graduating, Ginsburg went on to join the Columbia Project on International Civil Procedure, an opportunity that sent her to Sweden and opened her eyes as to what gender equality could be. This shaped her future in the cases she took as a young lawyer when she returned to the United States.
She worked as a law professor and as the leader of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. RBG took cases that challenged stereotyped approaches to what was considered acceptable “men’s work” and “women’s work.” She fought hard to prove how unconstitutional this divide was, saying that rather than placing the woman on a “pedestal,” these restrictions were trapping her in a “cage.”
Ginsburg finally received a nomination for a federal judge in 1980 after being passed over three times. This was due in part to her husband’s connections and her relentless determination.
She was notably conservative as a federal judge, something that disappointed her followers and fellow-feminists and worried them when she was nominated by Bill Clinton to be a Supreme Court Justice.
However, RBG’s true feelings shone through in cases where it mattered most. She was never afraid to make her voice heard.
As only the second woman to act as a Supreme Court Justice in the United States, Ginsburg played an important role in many crucial cases. She offered insight that her male-counterparts simply could not and was proud of being able to do so.
Some of the most important cases Justice Ginsburg ruled in favor of were things that impact our lives today. Obergfell v. Hodges, 2015, granted same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 2016 ensured that strict restrictions in legislation would not make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions. Olmstead v. LC, 1999 fought the stigma that people with mental disabilities should be isolated from society through legislation.
Even in the cases where she voted in the minority, Justice Ginsburg made her voice heard by expressing her disapproval through her dissents.
The Notorious RBG devoted her life to her work, voting even when undergoing cancer treatments and in the days following the death of her loving husband.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought hard throughout her life, putting equality at the forefront both at home and at work. The woman was a trailblazer by her own right, as she was never afraid to make her voice heard, even at 87-years-old.
Although she passed on September 18th, 2020, her accomplishments, both in what she achieved through legislation and the role model she provided for women through example, will never be forgotten.
She has truly changed our lives for the better.