Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice and Gender Equality Advocate, Dies At 87
By Abby Osborne
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the nation's most prominent gender equality advocates and the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, died Friday, September 18th. At 87, she died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.
The life of Justice Ginsburg didn’t begin in 1993, the year following The Year of Women, when President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court. Graduating at the top of her law class at Columbia—all while caring for her husband, Marty, who had cancer, and her child, which included helping complete a lot of her husband’s law schooling as well—Ginsburg secured a clerkship with Judge Edmund Palmieri in 1959 after numerous “no’s” despite her high academic achievement.
Her teaching job at Rutgers Law School is where her work to combat gender discrimination blossomed.
Urged by her students, she began a seminar on women and the law. In her own words in the short film Our Revolutionary Spirit, her students “sparked [her] interest and aided in charting the course [she] then pursued.” She remarked that not even three years from the start of the seminar she would be “arguing gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court.”
Justice Ginsburg became no stranger to fighting gender discrimination within the law, one of her most notable moments being the main author of the brief for the landmark case Reed v. Reed (1971), where SCOTUS ruled an act was unconstitutional for discriminating on the basis of sex. It wouldn’t be long before she became the co-director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.
Prior to her appointment on the Supreme Court, she served as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Once officially a part of the Supreme Court—only the second woman to be appointed—Justice Ginsburg quickly differentiated herself. As Jill Lepore noted in her recent obituary, “As the Court shifted [more right], Ginsburg was cast as its Great Dissenter.”
We cannot speak of her remarkable career without mentioning her less popular rulings—she unanimously upheld PROMESA; joined the majority in allowing the construction of an oil pipeline under a “famed” Appalachian Trail; denied tribal sovereignty.
However, she became, and remained, one of the most well known liberal Supreme Court Justices - morphing into a celebrity of sorts. She became immortalized in action figures, movie characters, subjects of books, etc. She appeared on late night shows and even had poison ivy eating goats named after her. This is a rarity when members of SCOTUS were normally anonymous fixtures in order to be less swayed by public opinion.
Despite multiple bouts with cancer, Justice Ginsburg “never missed a day of the court’s public schedule” during her tenure. She worked until her last day— surrounded by family at home.
Survivors of Justice Ginsburg include her two children, four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, a great-granddaughter, and a legacy as one of the most prominent gender equality advocates in America.
Abby Osborne is a freshman from Chester County, Pennsylvania majoring in political communication.