Madam Justice: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Long Fight For Gender Rights Lives On After Her Death

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away at the age of 87 on Friday, September 18th, after facing complications with metastatic pancreas cancer. The news of her death was announced by the Supreme Court, saying she died at her home in Washington, D.C. surrounded by her family. Ginsberg was previously diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer in 2009 and had surgery in 2014 to implant a stent.

Ginsberg was chosen by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and has ever since served as the most senior member of the court’s liberal wing, making ground-breaking decisions based on many social issues such as voting rights, equality, immigration, health care, and same-sex marriage. Known by her initials RBG, she had a long career in law serving on two sides of the bench, as a litigator and a sharp judge. She achieved a rock star status and became a feminist icon after being dubbed “Notorious R.B.G.” She was often was regarded as a Titan in the Justice Court System and in the law profession.

Ginsberg has suffered through five rounds of cancer, most recently coming back in early 2020 when her biopsy displayed lesions in her liver. She said in interviews that she was making progress through chemotherapy and kept up with an active daily routine. Even while fighting cancer, Ginsberg said she would still keep herself busy as long as she was alive. “I found each time that when I’m active, I’m much better than if I’m just lying about and feeling sorry for myself,” she said at event hosted by Moment Magazine in New York.

Before being a court judge, Ginsberg served as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union back in the 60s and helped create a legal plan of action to bring cases to the court that would guarantee the use of the 14th Amendment be applied to both genders.

Born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree after graduating from Cornell University, where she met her husband Martin D. Ginsburg when she was 17. After getting married, the couple moved to Oklahoma where she worked at the Social Security Administration office while her husband was stationed at the Army Reserve. In 1956, Ginsberg enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she was one out of nine women in a class with about 500 men. After her husband took a job in New York, Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School where she earned her law degree two years later.

After graduating, she often found it difficult to find work as a woman in the law profession. Her first job was as a professor at Rutgers Law School, where she faced inequality with her male co-workers after receiving less pay than them. She was among the few women who were law professors in the country. Ginsberg co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, which was the first law journal in the US to focus more on women’s rights. She also taught at Columbia Law School, where she first wrote a casebook on sex discrimination. Most of her work in the 1970s have largely been on gender discrimination and equality rights.

Before being a court judge, Ginsberg served as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union back in the 60s and helped create a legal plan of action to bring cases to the court that would guarantee the use of the 14th Amendment be applied to both genders.

In 1980, Ginsburg was appointed for a seat on the US Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter. She served on the council until 1993 when she was elevated to the US Supreme Court. She claimed the seat on the Supreme Court shortly after Byron White announced his retirement. She went on to become the longest-serving Jewish justice in the group. She was involved in some of the country’s biggest court cases that dealt with issues like gender discrimination, abortion rights, and foreign law.

Other than being a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsberg also became an author after publishing her first book, My Own Words in 2016. The book was a collection of all her speeches and writings in her lifetime dating back to the eighth grade. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, gaining positive reviews for giving fans a deep understanding on Ginsberg’s though process as she continuously evolved into a woman fighting for justice and equality.

With her husband Martin, Ginsberg raised two children and is a grandmother of four. Her daughter Jane became a professor at Columbia Law School while her son James became a founder of the classical music label Cedille Records. After moving to DC, Martin became a law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. Ginsburg and her husband were happily married until his death on June 27, 2010 caused by cancer.

Since her death, many legal figures have expressed their gratitude for the work that Ginsberg has done for the country.

Chief Justice John Roberts called her a

jurist of historic stature.

Actress Felicity Jones, who portrayed the late historic icon in the 2018 biopic On The Basis of Sex, shared her thoughts on her lasting legacy.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave us hope, a public figure who stood for integrity and justice — a responsibility she did not wear lightly,” Jones said in a statement. “She will be missed not only as a beacon of light in these difficult times but for her razor sharp wit and extraordinary humanity. She taught us all so much. I will miss her deeply.

Just days before her death, Ginsburg shared a dying wish with her granddaughter Clara Spera saying:

My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.

Despite her passing, Ginsburg has left her mark in history by changing the world for all American women and starting a revolution. Her crusade for gender equality has made her a legend in our country as her legacy lives on.

This piece was written by Mufsin Mahbub, TANTV journalist.

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