The Basic Guide to RBG:
Her Legacy and Fight for Equal Rights
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born on March 15th, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. RBG’s academic excellence was evident as she attended Cornell University, graduating top of her class, attended Harvard Law, and then transferred to Columbia Law, where she was tied for the top of her class. She was one of only nine women at Harvard Law School. She was often faced with the idea of her ‘taking up a man’s spot’ in her education and career. Her first attempt at working for the Supreme Court was cut short by Justice Felix Frankfurter who denied her a clerkship position on account of her gender. Regardless of setbacks, she pursued her passion for civil procedure, joining the Columbia Project on Civil Procedure. She taught at Rutgers University, where she was the first female professor there to earn tenure. She directed the influential Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and led the fight against gender discrimination where she successfully argued six landmark cases before the US Supreme Court. Some of her most influential majority opinions being the United States v. Virginia (1996), which forced the Virginia Military Institute to rid their policy of excluding women from attendance, and Olmstead v. LC, a 1999 case that affirms the rights of those with disabilities to live in a community setting, and not be forced to live in institutions. She fought for all who encountered gender discrimination, men included. She accepted Jimmy Carter’s appointment to the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980. Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton nominated her to replace Byron White. She was appointed to the Supreme Court and became the second woman and first Jewish woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a champion for gender equality and a force for progressive change. She had unwavering beliefs, advocating for civil rights and against capital punishment. In her 27 years on the Supreme Court, she fought for LGBTQ+ rights, access to healthcare, immigration justice, higher quality and equity of lawyers for lower income defendants, and of course, gender equality. She wrote nearly 200 opinions during her time on the Supreme Court, some to convince her fellow judges, or to “appeal to the intelligence of another day”. One of her powerful dissents involving voting rights remarked that when the majority court cut back voting rights for Black people, Hispanics, and other minorities, “[t]hrowing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was inspiring, strong, heroic, and a true force to be reckoned with. She pioneered the path for true equity in justice, inspired those held down to fight for their rights, and acted as a truly powerful voice for the voiceless. Ginsburg’s life work has left the United States truly changed for the better.
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