By Kylie Richardson
A little over three years ago, the world lost one of the most influential women in politics to ever step foot in the U.S. Supreme Court as the second woman and first female Jewish justice. Besides holding such a powerful title as a Supreme Court Justice, RBG was an activist for gender discrimination, fighting for both underrepresented women and men as well as a proud Jewish woman who was dedicated to demanding justice for the entirety of the Jewish faith. To celebrate the life of the notable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight why RBG is considered one of the greatest political figures, and what sets her apart from the rest of the world.
Breaking Gender Boundaries
Throughout Ginsburg’s lifetime, she has pushed countless boundaries allowing herself to create history and shape the way for women to immerse themselves further in education and career opportunities. After attending Cornell University, RBG went on to graduate first in her class from Columbia Law School in 1959. For Ginsburg, her success wasn’t met without an uphill battle. Even her professors in law school were “‘no doubt unfamiliar with having an outstanding female student in their classrooms.’ One professor even offered to give Ginsburg answers on a test in exchange for sex,” according to Katherine Franke, Columbia Law School professor and Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. Unlike many women of Ginsburg’s time, she refused her professor’s offer and strongly shouted at him, “How dare you! How dare you do this!” A threateningly intelligent woman, she then went on to shatter yet another glass ceiling when she became the first woman to join Columbia University as a tenured faculty member in 1972 as well as the second female law professor at Rutgers in 1963 all while fighting for equal pay, being openly Jewish, and a mother. Before her debut in the U.S. Supreme Court, Ginsburg dominated as a lawyer. She even won five cases before the Supreme Court in the 70s as well as successfully uniting with her fellow female employers at Rutgers to win their file of an Equal Pay Act complaint against Rutgers Law School after RBG discovered her male counterparts were being paid more than her.
The Pioneer of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU
Before RBG was appointed to the Supreme Court, she established the exception sub-section of the American Civil Liberties Union to empower “poor women, women of color, and immigrant women who have been subject to gender bias and who face pervasive barriers to equality.” When Ginsburg began her studies of the law, she originally had no plan to follow a civil rights path. As mentioned earlier, Ginsburg faced disparaging treatment by her fellow male classmates and male professors. Such experiences ignited a fire within Ginsburg’s unbreakable spirit, pushing her to want to make a difference for not only herself but for every other woman surrounding her in the present and the future. So, her feminism flourished.
With her savvy legal skills and individual sexist encounters, Ginsburg took on sex discrimination complaints to handle herself referred to her by the New Jersey affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. According to the ACLU, “Ginsburg envisioned that men and women would ‘create new traditions by their actions, if artificial barriers were removed, and avenues of opportunity held open to them,’” prompting Ginsburg to birth the ACLU Women’s Rights Project in 1972. Ginsburg pushed to remove the barriers stopping women from thriving just as men were able to in all aspects of society including the workforce, educational opportunities, and societal norms. Under Ginsburg’s leadership, the Women’s Rights Project was shaped into the role of articulating the principles that forcefully persuade the American Justice System and its courts to invoke the Constitution and federal statutes to protect the rights of women and terminate all legal barriers standing in any woman’s way. The ACLU was the first national organization to argue for abortion rights and trans rights before the Supreme Court, fighting every day for women’s rights cases, and strengthening the union behind the women of the world.
The “Notorious RBG”
A pop culture icon, RBG has become the most popular Supreme Court Justice in all of American history. In a country where most people cannot name a single current sitting Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an unlikely celebrity that comes to mind almost every time the Supreme Court is mentioned. Getting her nickname inspired by fellow Brooklyn, New York-born and raised rapper “Notorious BIG”, Ginsburg continues to be an admirable figure that deserves all the love and praise for her immense efforts, so it’s extremely heartwarming to see how much love she received and still receives post-mortem as the American society has progressed. On social media, Ginsburg has inspired hashtags to spread awareness of current events and spread information about hot topics, reflections on her empowering efforts and accomplishments, shares of favorite RBG quotes, and a sense of community amongst her following. Millions of viewers also got a kick out of late-night host Stephen Colbert’s rendezvous with Ginsburg where she brought Colbert through her intense workout while rocking her “Super Diva” crewneck.
An amazingly inspirational mother, lawyer, Justice, and especially Jewish woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg proved to be one of the greatest trailblazers for people of all kinds. For people living with cancer, for women, for minorities, for free thinkers, and for loudspeakers, Ginsburg truly encompasses the definition of a powerful leader. After battling with colon, lung, and pancreatic cancer for years, complications associated with pancreatic cancer unfortunately took Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18, 2020. But even after her passing, RBG is still and will continue to be remembered for her powerful presence and influence in American society.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi!! My name is Kylie and I’ve been a magazine/blog writer for WIP for over a year. I am currently a high school student in the Law and Public Service Program at my school where I discovered my passion for politics and social involvement. I have found a love for writing and I aspire to explore a career in politics and law, especially social justice including equality and environmental advocacy, thus driving me to apply for a position at the empowering organization that is Women In Politics.