RBG: Mourning a Legal Lion and Honoring Her Legacy
September 24, 2020
By Yarah Kassam, DFER National Deputy Development Director
The recent loss of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a severe blow to the fight for gender equality and the American legal system as a whole—and her passing, and the potential consequences it may bring, only gives voters yet another reason to turn out this November, to stand against the tyranny and oppression this Administration practices.
From her time as a law professor and litigator, Justice Ginsburg fought hard. She faced discrimination on all sides and in all of her endeavors. She was met with opposition in her education, and as she sought employment, but rather than let these barriers stop her, Justice Ginsburg pledged to change the system, so that future generations of women would not have to face the battles that she did. From fighting for equal pay as a law professor at Rutgers University, to her tenure as the first director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, to winning five out of the six cases she argued in front of the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg never gave up on the work needed to ensure that men and women would be seen as equals under the law.
In her majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, Justice Ginsburg challenged the male-only admissions policy at Virginia Military Institute, stating, “we can no longer limit women by generalizations of what they can and cannot do.” While this seems now like a standard analysis of the Constitution, this case enacted a precedent and laid the groundwork for establishing gender equality as an inherent tenent of our constitutional interpretation. In fact, many of the things we now take for granted, we only have because of the inexhaustible brilliance of the Notorious RBG.
Throughout the nearly three decades she spent on the Court, Justice Ginsburg also became known for her fiery dissents. Even when a decision did not go the way she would have chosen, Justice Ginsburg continued to advocate for equal rights through her dissenting opinions in order to have her thoughts on record.
Justice Ginsburg defied society and defined history. As one of the only four women to ever serve on the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg’s voice and legacy is more than a pawn in a fear mongering political game.
While Republicans may hypocritically try to replace Justice Ginsburg before the American people have a chance to vote for the next President, her legal excellence and deep humanity remain irreplaceable—and her historical work will live on through inspired law students and legal minds as we continue to fight for equality and equity in this country.
And fight we must.
If, for some reason, the loss of Justice Ginsburg isn’t enough motivation to vote, one needs only to look to the staggering number of additional tragedies this year of bigotry has wrought, including the senseless deaths of so many innocent Black men and women—and the lack of justice in the prosecution of these murders—and the passing of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis. Amidst so much pain and unrest, we’re also living through an unprecedented pandemic, with only the “leadership” of an incompetent President for guidance.
This year has been demanding on the emotional well-being of millions of people. And when so many have lost so much, we honor them and each other by turning out in droves for this election. Our latest grief is Justice Ginsburg, a woman who dedicated her entire life to fighting for the American people. The least we can do for her in return is to show up on November 3.
Our current “leadership” is failing us, and has done so for years, but we have a chance to intervene and shift the course of our nation by voting this November. The fate of our democracy and our equality as we know it is on the brink, and we cannot let Justice Ginsburg’s decades of efforts hang in the balance. Elections matter. Your voice matters.
So vote for our future. Vote to honor all of those we’ve lost this past year. Vote for Ruth.
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