Commemorating the Memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
By Christina Yao, Press & Written Media Staff
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made … It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” These were the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose legacy as a Supreme Court Justice continues to live on today and will be remembered for generations to come. Voting rights, reproductive rights and equal pay are a fraction of what females in American society owe to the fight and determination of Ginsburg.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Ginsburg was raised by an immigrant father and a mother who died of cancer when Ginsburg was young. She attended Cornell University, later moving on to attend Harvard Law before transferring to Columbia Law School. Despite graduating at the top of her class in 1956, there were barely any employers willing to take her due to her being a Jewish woman with the responsibilities of motherhood. Ginsburg, therefore, reluctantly began teaching at Rutgers University, where she developed a passion for women’s rights and feminism. In the 1970s, she co-founded the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and went before the Supreme Court to argue six gender discrimination cases, five of which she won. In 1993, she was nominated by Bill Clinton to serve as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. A bipartisan senate overwhelmingly approved her, 96–3.
Ginsburg gave women the right to own their own credit cards — a substantial accomplishment for gender equality in U.S. history. By opening many all-male schools to women, she enabled America to make strides towards educational equality. Ginsburg also fought diligently for reproductive rights. She saw that if a government could control the right of a woman to have children, then the rights of women were essentially being diminished to an unacceptably inhumane level. Her continued fight for equality for women was not only extremely impactful, but was also done in a strategic and arguably unconventional way.
Ginsburg realized that many of the important decisions being made in America in the 1900s were controlled by men. These men saw women as having enough rights as is, and the expansion of them would be completely unnecessary. In light of this, Ginsburg formed a strategy to acquire rights for women by advocating for men’s rights. She would argue for cases involving equal male child care payments, insurance for widowers and other forms of male-based discrimination that were prevalent in America at the time. As many of the people who determined the outcome of these cases sympathized with their own gender, Ginsburg was able to indirectly create laws for women that guaranteed equality.
Ginsburg’s fight for equal rights between the sexes was accompanied by an effort to extend the rights of the disabled. She defended the Americans Disabilities Act by helping two people who were unfairly trapped in psychiatric institutions for many years, establishing herself as an advocate of the vulnerable members of society.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a name that will be remembered and respected for decades and even centuries to come. At just 5’1”, she radiated authority and wisdom to all who knew her. Her contributions to our society have given all females opportunities in the workforce, social sphere, and the medical world that would be inconceivable just 50 years ago. As a teenage girl who is soon entering college and eventually the workforce, I am inspired by women like RBG who have fought for me to have the privilege of equal rights, pay, voting and so much more. She has been a powerhouse in American history, and her legacy and determination for goodwill inspire generations to come.
You can learn more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and trailblazing impact in the courtroom by watching the 2018 documentary “RBG” or by reading her books “My Own Words” and “I Know This To Be True: On Equality, Determination, and Service.”
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