Editorial: a tribute to RBG


Courtesy of Shana Knizhnik and Irin Carmon

Nicknamed the Notorious RBG, Ginsburg was renowned for her work in gender equality.

She was a champion of creating gender equality; the United States could not retain the title “The Land of the Free” without the work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In order to repay RBG for her years of effort in creating “free-er” America, the American people must fight to make her final dream, as told to her granddaughter Clara Spera, a reality. And what is this dying wish? “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Bader Ginsburg is quoted as saying.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg entered Harvard University in 1964 after graduating at the top of her class from Columbia two years previously. While there, Ginsburg was asked to justify her “taking away a spot from males at the prestigious Harvard University” as one of just nine women in a class of 550; regardless of the limited support from administration, she then went on to graduate top in her class from Columbia University in 1959. This experience at Harvard was not the last time Ginsburg faced gender descrimination, however.

She was unable to find a job fitting for her qualifications during the 1960s but received a position as a clerk for the U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri through the help of her Columbia professor. Following a two year stint with Judge Palmieri, Ginsberg moved to Sweden to pursue research into the Sweedish Judicial System. Her time in Sweden is said to have prompted Ginsberg to become a gender equality advocate; while there, she noticed that 20% of law students (as compared to the United States’ 5%) were women, and this caused her to question the American system for gender equality. Another defining moment in Ginsburg’s time in Sweden occurred when Ginsburg read a quote in a magazine; the quote “men and women have one principal goal: that of being people,”heavily influenced Ginsburg’s litigation career.

Following her time in Sweden, Ginsburg taught at both Rutgers and Columbia Universities and became the first woman to earn tenure at Columbia. After experiencing a lower income on the basis of gender at Rutgers, Ginsburg began handling cases brought to her by the American Civil Liberties Union. While with the ACLU, Ginsburg established the Women’s Rights Project in 1972 and fought for gender equality. Ginsburg was involved in 34 cases Supreme Court cases, argued six, and won five with the ACLU. A notable victory included Reed vs. Reed, which gave women the right to be administrators of their estates, and for which Ginsburg wrote a brief. In the courtroom, Ginsburg argued in front of the Supreme Court in cases such as Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, Duren v. Missouri, and Frontiero, most of which Ginsburg used examples of discrimination against men in to gain support from the Court. These wins provided all genders with the right to support from the government while caring for a minor, the right to have women serve on one’s jury in Missouri (and consequently other states), and to benefits for families from the US Military.

Ginsburg’s influence on gender equality did not stop at the end of her time with the ACLU. Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg penned the decision in the United States v. Virginia, effectively deeming segregation in state-funded schools on the basis of gender unconstitutional. Ginsburg also played a large role in the Supreme Court even when she wasn’t in the majority; when the Court started to lean more conservatively in 2006, Ginsburg’s dissent in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear case helped lead to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Signed into law by President Obama in 2009, the act amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and allows one who feels that their paycheck is lessened due to discrimination on any basis to file an equal pay lawsuit every time they receive a lessened paycheck. Ginsburg also took a firm stance in a dissent against the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that altered the core of the 1964 Voting Act. Ginsburg wrote that changing aspects of the law is that were working is “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” It was her strong dissents and ability to convince Congress to pass new laws that Ginsburg rose to be a household name in defending equal rights for all Americans.

Following Justice Ginsburg’s passing on September 18th, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary.” While unclear about the timing of a Senate vote on a Trump-appointed replacement to Ginsburg, this message is almost directly going against the position Senate Republicans took in 2016 about appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans argued that, because 2016 was an election year, the newly elected President should have the honor of appointing a Supreme Court Justice. This meant that Republicans blocked a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s nominee, allowing President Trump to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the court.

In order to truly commemorate Ginsberg’s legacy, Americans must honor her wish of not allowing a new SCOTUS appointment until after the 2020 Election. This is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of respecting the final wishes of a woman who empowered so many. In order to do this, it is vital that we reach out to our legislators at the number below and remind them of the actions of the Senate in 2016, Ginsburg’s dying wish, and why Ginsburg is invaluable to the freedom Americans have today. Use your voice and rights to fight for what you believe in- the Notorious RBG would have wanted it that way.


Representative Scott Tipton: (202) 225-4761
Senator Cory Gardner: (202) 224-5941
Senator Michael Bennet: 202-224-5852