With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, September 18, 2020, we lost a true ambassador of integrity. Even while battling cancer, Justice Ginsburg continued to fill her duties on the highest court in the land, knowing that she was needed by the American people to stand up for what is right.
Ginsburg was one of only nine women in a class of over 500 students when she was admitted to Harvard Law School. Not only did she hold her own, she excelled, going so far as to be the first woman on the Harvard Law Review.
Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School when her husband’s job forced the couple to move to New York. She graduated at the top of her class.
Ginsburg went on to become one of the first female law professors. Initially she taught at Rutgers University and then moved on to be the first woman of tenure at Columbia Law School.
Over her career, Ginsburg was a champion of civil rights, gender equality, and women’s reproductive rights. In the 1970s she was a litigator and director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. As a litigator she argued six cases to the Supreme Court from 1973 to 1978, winning five.
Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 96 to 3.
Ginsburg was a dainty lady, standing just 5 feet tall and weighing no more than 100 pounds. Yet she was a giant in the world of law. She was a titan of truth and justice.
Ginsburg beat colon cancer in 1999 and early-stage pancreatic cancer in 2009. Her eventual death in 2020 was due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer,
Not only is Ginsburg’s passing a loss of a brilliant legal mind and advocate for civil rights, it also presents a question as to when and who will appoint her replacement.
In March 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia. Republicans in the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, refused to consider the nomination because it was in an election year.
Now we have the same scenario: a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. By McConnell’s own argument, a replacement should not be made until after the election. But, will this happen?
Based on McConnell’s performance of partisan politics taken to the extreme, I fear that we can expect a double standard from the Senate.
Left to his own devices, Donald Trump appointed a far-right, accused rapist to the Supreme Court in 2018. In his short time on the bench, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has been an enemy of civil rights and women’s reproductive rights. Another far-right appointment by Trump would have devastating effects on the landscape of the law – especially considering that Trump is likely to be charged with a multitude of crimes when he is removed from office. Do we really want Trump tried by justices he appointed? That seems like a clear conflict of interest.
It is easy to say that there will never be another Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because at heart we are all individuals. We are all unique. But there will be others like Ginsburg – fighting for truth and equality.
Although choosing to use the U.S. House of Representatives as her battleground rather than the courts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a fine example of the future of America. Similarly, Vice President nominee Senator Kamala Harris has been an advocate for justice throughout a career that also included serving as District Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California.
These are but two examples of how Ginsburg’s spirit will continue to live on. The fact is there are young men and women growing up today that will eventually be our country’s next champions of good. That is why it is so important to teach our youth about American heroes like Ruth Bader Ginsburg so they can emulate her spirit.
So, it is true there will never be another RBG. But there will always be a need for people like her. It is up to us to make sure that need is filled.
How do we accomplish that? We educate our future generations. We protest when there are wrongs in society. We fight for a free, impartial press. And, we vote for quality candidates that have America’s best interest at heart, not the special interests of lobbyists, big business, and the 1%.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked tirelessly to ensure we have the freedoms laid out in the Constitution. We should honor her memory by continuing that fight.
Peace. Love. Trust.
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