“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
On Friday, September 18th of 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of pancreatic cancer at age 87. Nominated to the Court in 1993, Ginsburg spent her time on the Court fighting for the rights of women, gay individuals, and immigrants.
Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 15,1933. As a student, Ginsburg excelled, and dreamed of attending law school. After high school, she attended Cornell University on a full scholarship before heading to Harvard University School of Law.
However, Ginsburg faced countless discrimination because she was a Jewish woman attending law school in the 1950s. In fact, being one of 9 women in the entire law school, one of her professors asked her, “Why are you taking up a spot that a man could have?”
Eventually, she transferred to Columbia University where she received her law degree in 1959. Four years later, she taught at Rutgers Law School. This began her lifelong fight on ending discrimination against women, as she had a platform to argue that the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed equal protection to both men and women.
After overcoming these obstacles, Ginsburg was elected to the court of the land during President Bill Clinton’s presidency. She was just the second women in U. S. history to become elected To the Supreme Court. Once elected, she oversaw many controversial cases- here a few examples:
United States V Virginia (1996): Only men were allowed to attend the Virginia Military Institute, but Ginsburg argued that women should also have the right to attend. To this day, the case decision serves as a precedent for the future- women can be admitted into military schools.
Goodyear Tire V. Ledbetter (2007): Ledbetter sued her employer after finding out that she had been wrongfully paid less than men who had the same position in the company. Even though federal courts compensated Ledbetter, the case reached the Supreme Court. While the Court ruled that she did not have the ability to sue her company, Ginsburg launched what many call a “scathing dissent” of the majority. Ledbetter later remarked, “I get chills and goosebumps today just thinking about it... knowing how fiercer she was.”
Ginsburg truly was an American hero in her way. Fighting for others her entire life despite the many barriers makes someone a person to admire. One important lesson we can all learn from her is this: “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.”
R. B. G