Written by Jack Miller
Last Friday, The United States was shaken by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg was 87 when she passed, having served the country through her membership on the Supreme Court for 27 years after her appointment under the Clinton Administration. Throughout her membership in the court, she spent much of her time fighting and advocating for the rights of women.
RBG was born in 1933 into a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. She lived through the Great Depression and eventually, after excelling in her education through high school, managed to land a spot at Cornell University and graduated top of her class in 1954. She had earned a bachelor’s degree in government and desired to further her education in law. After the birth of her daughter, she enrolled in Harvard Law School and managed to get in as one of nine women in her graduating class of more than 500. Not only did Ginsburg face intense opposition just by existing in this male-dominated environment but the dean of the university had, on multiple occasions, reprimanded her for “taking enrollment spots” from more qualified males.
Ginsburg had transferred colleges after her husband was diagnosed with cancer; she continued her education at Columbia Law School and graduated, again first in her class, in 1959. She continued her relationship with Columbia Law School and taught there following her graduation, becoming Columbia’s first female tenured professor. She continued to educate there while also working during the 70s as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, during which she would argue cases involving gender equality before the Supreme Court.
This position helped Ginsburg enter the political radar for the first time in her career, and it let to her being appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980 by Jimmy Carter. She stayed in this position until she was appointed to the Supreme Court. Once on the Supreme Court, and sworn if for life, RBG resided as an incredibly powerful female voice calling for gender equality and inclusion in every area of American life. In 1996 she wrote her first landmark decision in United States v. Virginia, making it illegal for the Virginia Military Institute to refuse education to women. She continued up until 2020 to advocate for the rights of women and since her appointment has tirelessly fought and won cases in support of gender equality.
RBG’s story and legacy today is just as impactful, if not more so, than it was during her lifetime. She was the second female appointed to the Supreme Court since its creation. She continued to educate herself and show that in male-dominated arenas that she was just as – if not better – fit for the job than her male peers. Ginsburg fought back against the forces attempting to silence her and keep her in her place. She continued throughout her life to stand as an unshakable pillar in support of women’s right to equal pay, birth control, and legal standing before the law. Her unwillingness to be dismissed and her prevalence with the odds stacked against her continue to be an inspiration to many individuals to this day.