The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
October 9, 2020
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87 on Sept. 18 from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Justice Ginsburg was a powerhouse who shattered glass ceilings from a young age. Ginsburg graduated from James Madison High School with honors, going on to study government at Cornell University and later becoming one of nine women at the time to be admitted into Harvard Law. Ginsburg later transferred to Columbia Law, receiving her degree in 1959 and graduated first in her class.
Ginsburg fought through discrimination over the years, with two perceived strikes against her: she was both Jewish and a woman. Never giving up, in 1970 she founded “Women’s Rights Law Reporter,” the first law journal that focused on discrimination and rights of women.
Throughout the 1970s, Ginsburg fought for many rights that women still are able to enjoy today. In 1971 she wrote the brief for Reed v. Reed, which protected women under the 14th amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This led to the landmark case Roe v. Wade, in which abortion was constitutionally protected due to the 14th amendment’s Equal Protection and Due Process Clause, guaranteeing women the right to doctor-patient privacy and the right to medical procedures as they saw fit.
In 1973, she argued in Frontiero v. Richardson, challenging a statute in which female service members could not get the increased housing allowance for their husbands that their gendered counterparts would get for their spouses. In 1975, Ginsburg argued for, and won, in Weinberger v. Wiesenfield, in which a widower could not receive social security benefits for his dead spouse to care for his children, despite a widow being allowed to receive those benefits. During the 70s, she fought for, and won, against forced sterilization of the mentally ill and “defective” as well as discrimination against women completing jury duty.
On June 22, 1993, Ginsburg was nominated as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. Justice Ginsburg used her 27 years on the Supreme Court to not only fight for the rights of women to privacy and equality, but also for the rights of men. Women have the right to work, join the military, and have access to the same colleges as men; men have the right to stay home and be caretakers of the family, and should be allowed the same benefits as their counterparts to do so.
Justice Ginsburg was married for 56 years to Martin Ginsburg, who passed away in 2010. Ginsburg’s health declined for several years, with her condition worsening over the past year. In her last few days with her family, Ginsburg reportedly told them, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”