On Sept. 18, at the age of 87, Supreme Court Justice and champion of women’s rights Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) died.
As the longest standing woman on the Supreme Court, and only the second woman to serve, Ginsburg has been a voice for liberal issues, and more importantly, a voice for justice.
She embodied what it meant to be an advocate for change. The loss of Ginsburg is devastating, and her vacancy leaves Americans saddened and fearful.
Ginsburg was and is an inspiration to so many women — not only did she defy the social constraints placed on her as a woman to become an attorney, and later a judge, but she was both Jewish and a mother.
Ginsburg was denied jobs at law firms because of her social identity, and so she did what she did best — she persevered, she fought. Just like she fought for women’s rights, she fought cancer in a battle that left her diagnosed with the disease four different times, and ultimately it was this fight that she lost Friday.
Ginsburg advocated for women’s rights before serving as a justice, helping to strike down legal barriers that held women back and told them they were not good enough for the job. Ultimately, Ginsburg was a tireless advocate for gender equality and was not afraid to speak truth to those in power.
Ginsburg was also a pop-culture icon, and in 2018 a biographical documentary on Ginsburg, “RBG” was released. After seeing the film in theaters with my mom, I immediately ordered an RBG sticker for my laptop, along with a T-shirt. She instantly became my own personal role model, just like she did for other young women.
Beyond the impact Ginsburg had while working for gender equality, she also voted for worker’s rights, the legalization of same sex marriage and the separation of church and state. Ginsburg also became the first justice to officiate a same sex marriage in the U.S.
Ginsburg refused to accept gender inequalities, and she lived through the realities women face in a social context and in the workplace. She feared losing her job as a professor when she became pregnant and had to hide her pregnancy while working.
Personally, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had a massive influence on who I am today, and who I want to become. Ginsburg did not shy away from being tough in the face of injustices and inequalities. Her fierceness, her ability to be blunt and honest in her court opinions and in the way she spoke is something that has socially been unacceptable for women to do.
As a woman who went to law school, became an attorney, served as a law professor, became a judge and ultimately a Supreme Court justice, Ginsburg set an example and she blazed the way for young women like me to choose the path of someday becoming an attorney and an advocate for civil rights.
It is because of her and women like her that I want to go to law school and dedicate my life and career to being an advocate for civil rights.
So, now I am grappling — like many — this hole that I feel has been drilled through with the loss of Ginsburg. There is now a giant gap in the Supreme Court that I feel may never be filled.
While grieving the loss of this groundbreaking woman who leaves behind an enormous legacy, I am simultaneously fearful of what her absence might bring to the Supreme Court and to the fate of our country.
I wish that as someone who idolized and respected Ginsburg that I could just simply mourn and cry at the mere fact that she has died. Instead, I am overwhelmed with both the political implications her death will bring, and what effect that may have on the future of women’s rights and equality in the U.S.
The death of Ginsburg means there is now an opportunity for President Donald Trump to appoint yet another justice to the Supreme Court, which would make it Trump’s third Supreme Court appointment.
The death of Ginsburg therefore means not only the death of an icon, and of someone who ferociously advocated for justice, but it could quite possibly mean death to the balance of the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg worked to maintain equal rights case by case. She changed the way women were able to work, have the right to a bank account and to sign a mortgage without a man and the way women participate in the economy and in politics.
RBG put up a fight for justice throughout her entire career in law.
Now it’s our turn to fight for what is right.
In her final wishes to her granddaughter Ginsburg said,
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
We must honor her wish.