Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an advocate for women’s rights and fought against gender discrimination for 27 years on the Supreme Court

By Isabel Sinnot

Arts and Entertainment Editor

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
           Former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (oyez.org)

Former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, passed away on the 18th of September from complications due to cancer after serving for 27 years on the Supreme Court. Ginsberg was a liberal Justice who, over the course of her career, fought against gender discrimination and for equal rights for women, always standing with the liberal section of the court on her decisions. 

Ginsberg attended first Harvard and then Columbia Law School, serving on the Law Review at both schools, and continuing her education while facing challenges such as gender discrimination and being a mother. At Harvard, out of the 500 people in her class, there were only eight other women. Even after graduating from Columbia, first in her class, Ruth Bader Ginsberg faced discrimination based on her gender, but continued working. She first became a clerk for U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri before later becoming a professor at Rutgers University Law School and then Columbia, where she was the first tenured female professor. Regarding her motivation to pursue law, Ms. Lovaas, a US History teacher at Hammond High School, states that, “RBG saw first-hand how women were not only treated differently studying law, they were treated differently BY law.” Before being appointed to the Supreme Court, Ginsberg also served for 13 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from 1980 until 1993. 

Prior to becoming a Justice on the Supreme Court, Ginsberg argued six landmark cases before them, all having to do with gender discrimination. Later, when Ginsberg was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton, she used her experience with gender discrimination and her knowledge about it to fight for women’s rights. Ms. Lovaas commented that, “One of her biggest accomplishments was making the Supreme Court realize that the 14th Amendment, which says any person cannot be denied equal protection of the law, includes women. Until her fight, that hadn’t been the case.” There were a number of cases in which Ginsberg’s vote and voice was an instrumental factor in how that case turned out. 

There were many cases and issues that Ginsberg had an enormous impact on, including Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co which later led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the case of United States v. Virginia, and on the issues of same-sex marriage and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Many of her decisions have had long lasting impacts on how society has been shaped, and as said by Ms. Lovaas, “I believe her words will continue to have long lasting impacts on shutting down other regressive ideas in this country.”

Though originally Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co ruled against Ledbetter, therefore denying Lilly Ledbetter equal pay to other men who held the same job, Ginsberg wrote a long dissenting opinion on it to the Court. Two years later, Ginsberg worked with President Obama to change the law, and put into place more laws enforcing gender equality and protections.

Ginsberg dedicated her life towards serving the country, through serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals, co-founding the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, and serving on the Supreme Court. At the time of her death, she was the second of four women to sit on the Supreme Court. 

Ginsberg also made history through becoming the first woman to lie in state at the US capitol. On Wednesday the 23rd and Thursday the 24th of September, large crowds of people filed past the building to pay their respects while close family and the other Justices of the Court gathered at the private funeral.