RBG: Life, Legacy, and The Future of The Supreme Court

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on 18th, 2020 as a result of complications with pancreatic cancer.

Cynthia Schneider, Research Editor

On September 18th, 2020, continuing 2020’s awful trend, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a legend for all generations and for all kinds of Americans, died. Within her 87 years of living, she influenced women’s rights and American law forever. She was born in 1933 and later attended school at Cornell University followed by Harvard Law and Columbia Law School (graduated in 1959). During this time, very few women held respectable or male-dominated jobs such as law. This reality was all too true for Ginsburg. While trying to find a law job she was denied opportunities from law firms in New York for years; she later became a law professor at Rutgers instead. During the 1970s, Ginsburg became immensely influential as she started to practice as an actual lawyer associated with the American Civil Liberties Union and their Women’s Rights Project. She argued cases on Women’s Rights and equality in front of the Supreme Court and changed the realm of American law for generations. Other extremely notable moments in her life include her appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980 by president Jimmy Carter and then finally her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, making her the second woman to ever serve on the bench. Throughout her work from the 1970s to her over 25 years serving on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been an inspiration to many Americans. By fighting for the minority every time, she has shown what it really means to be a judge and one that works for the people.

Many Americans are unaware of the specifics of her work, so I would recommend looking into her time with the Women’s Rights Project as well as some of the cases she argued during her time on the bench. Nevertheless, her legacy lives on as the “Notorious RBG”, a nickname she gained from her long list of 5-4 court decision dissenting opinions she had on the Supreme Court. Now, she is most known for being a liberal icon for young liberals everywhere including being the subject of blockbuster movies like On the Basis of Sex in 2018, the book the Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2015, and an RBG documentary in 2018, Saturday Night Live had RBG as a recurring character in their skits, and there is an inordinate amount of RBG merchandise found across the internet.

My approach, I believe, is neither liberal nor conservative. Rather, it is rooted in…our democratic society.”

— Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Her death will forever be mourned by many Americans everywhere, but because of the rising tensions with the 2020 election year, there has been little time for America to recover from this. This vacant seat on the bench has been a topic of discourse for many Americans and especially the Republican Party. In 2016, also an election year, former Supreme Court Justice and best friend of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Antonin Scalia died. Because this occurred during an election year, the Republican party blocked former President Obama from appointing a replacement and let the next president decide. The democratic party was forced to agree and Trump later appointed Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Four years later, the same thing has happened; there is a vacant seat during a crucial election year, but the Republican Party is not living up to their end of the deal. They have already been working towards appointing another Justice only a month before election day. The candidate that was nominated was Amy Coney Barret, a famous conservative. Despite this and the countless arguments surrounding this candidate, it is important that America acknowledges and appreciates the work of the legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg.