Ruth Bader Ginsburg in front of the Senate during her Supreme Court Confirmation hearing that took place in 1993. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
After the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a.k.a. R.B.G.), the historical feminist icon, whose accomplishments opened doors for young women and minorities all over the country, many have been reflecting on her achievements and how her passing will impact and affect our future.
Although Ginsburg is most popular for her seat as the first Jewish woman (and second woman ever) on the Supreme Court, after attending law school, she soon began to advocate for gender equality. This would be known to be the start of her impressive and outstanding career as a woman, feminist, lawyer, and justice.
Before her big role as Justice on the Supreme Court, she worked on the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, where she was the chief architect. She then went on to win six milestone Supreme Court cases that all set in stone different laws to create a more equal society, that wasn’t only beneficial to women’s gender inequality issues, but men’s issues as well.
Agnes Conradt, who grew up in the same generation as Ginsburg, talks about an experience when she was on a jury and the prosecutor questioned her ability to be on the jury because of her age. She quoted Ginsburg, using her as an inspiration and example as a response to the prosecutor’s implication that she was incapable of being on the jury.
“I said, you know, I have a mentor I said and she is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and while I do not have the kind of ability or experience that she has, I have the kind of drive that she has,” said Conradt. “And she says ‘I’m going to do my job. As long as I can do it, full steam ahead’ and I said to them: that’s how I’m living my life. I’m living my life full steam ahead. As long as I can.”
It’s clear that Ginsburg served as a huge role model for women of all ages and encouraged women to speak up for themselves in situations where they’re being discriminated against or treated unfairly because of their gender. Ginsburg set up an idea that encouraged women to not feel subjected to gender stereotypes and are not afraid to step out of the box society created for them.
“She simply wanted everyone to have equal opportunities, no matter your race, sexual
orientation, or gender. Seeing her use her role in the Supreme Court to fight for
communities who don’t have a big voice showed me how important it is to do my part
and be an ally for those who are constantly being neglected,” expressed Justine Banaña, a junior at Saint Mary’s High School in Stockton, California.
Once she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993, she began her work as a Justice fighting for gender equality and being unafraid to assert her authority by notoriously dissenting multiple cases.
“She was just so amazing and what she did in her dissent. She is one of the first people on the Supreme Court that is given so much recognition for her powerful writings in dissent of cases that did not pass,” explained Conradt. “I would like to point out the case, and I don’t remember the name of the case, but it was the case about a woman being paid an equal wage that went down. It did not pass in the Supreme Court. And she wrote a scathing dissent, as one of her most famous dissents. And she challenged Congress. She said it will be up to the Congress to right this wrong, that ‘oughta do it.”
Conradt referred to the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, where Lilly Ledbetter sued Goodyear for gender discrimination after receiving low rankings and low pay raises compared to her male counterparts. The court ruled that Ledbetter was not being discriminated against because of her gender.
Ginsburg, on the dissenting side of the ruling, argued that the court was interpreting TITLE VII (a provision part of the case), in a “cramped” manner and suggested that they present the case to congress, where Ledbetter testified in front of the House and the Senate (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company – Oyez). After doing so, President Barack Obama signed what would be his first piece of legislation: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (Lilly Ledbetter: RBG’s Dissent in Landmark Case).
She was the only woman on the court until Obama appointed two more during his presidency. Once there were three women on the court, more often than not they were three of the four dissenting opinions. Ginsburg often spoke on behalf of the dissenting opinion, continuously using her voice and power to overrule the people who viewed the world indifferent from herself, who could see injustice and strove to acquire truth and justice for all.
“I think RBG’s work and progress in women’s rights is so important now and for the future because every one of her votes and decisions on the Supreme Court was another step forward for the country,” said Banaña. “America is known as a progressive and very “forward-thinking” country, but we could not live up to that notion if women were still seen as weaker or less capable. RBG ensured that women and men were held at the same standards in all aspects of society.”
Ginsburg made sure that the work she did made a change for a better nation and society. She was not afraid to be the outspoken debater when she had a job to do. She worked to fix each societal issue piece by piece, focusing on small issues one by one until one bigger issue was solved.
Ginsburg had a vision as to what the nation should look like, and what needed and still needs to be done in order to live in an ideal world. She imagined a world where each and every issue she fought against was gone and that people were treated equally, with love and respect.
“I think her legacy will live on for future generations because she is the true
embodiment of a feminist. One of the biggest misconceptions about feminism is that
“women want to be seen as better th8an men,” when in reality, us women just want to be
seen as EQUAL to men. Equal in our pay, equal in our opportunities, equal in our
treatment, etc,” stated Banaña. “She also made history by being the second female to take on the role of a Justice in the Supreme Court, a position that is usually dominated by males. She is an inspiration to girls across the world because she proves that women are capable of doing anything.”
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Oyez, www.oyez.org/justices/ruth_bader_ginsburg. Accessed 11 Oct. 2020.
“Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.” Oyez, www.oyez.org/cases/2006/05-1074. Accessed 11 Oct. 2020.
Greenhouse, Linda. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court’s Feminist Icon, Is Dead at 87.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Sept. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/us/ruth-bader-ginsburg-dead.html.
Mineo, Liz. “Harvard Community Reflects on the Life, Achievements of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Harvard Gazette, Harvard Gazette, 21 Sept. 2020, news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/09/harvard-community-reflects-on-the-life-achievements-of-ruth-bader-ginsburg/.
Zients, Sasha. “Ledbetter: RBG’s Dissent in ‘Wage Gap’ Case Gives Me ‘Chills’.” CNN, Cable News Network, 22 Aug. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/08/22/politics/rbg-podcast-lilly-ledbetter-cnntv/index.html.