This started out as a letter I wrote my teacher after hearing of the untimely death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but I thought that I should share with you, first what I feel, and then, the life of the phenomenal woman that was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the woman who fought for the rights of people to be protected under the law.
My Immediate Response to the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsberg
I am heavily distraught and completely devastated by the passing of The Notorious RBG. She is the entire reason I began to fall in love with the American Government System, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that if not for her, neither you nor I would have the rights we have today. Without her we wouldn't be seen as people whose rights are protected under the law. Other than distraught, I don't know how to feel. I have idolized this woman most of my life, and she just slipped away.
My generation cannot handle another Trump-appointed Justice. It shouldn't be allowed to happen anyway, but Mitch McConnell has reworded, and Lindsey Graham gone back on what they said when Justice Anthony Scalia passed. We cannot live in a world that will reverse what she has fought to build. And I'm mad at myself for being able to think about politics when such a sensational woman just slipped from the world. But the horrific fact is that on some level, this has to be political. The court system has been America's greatest check, and it was never to be political, but it's corrupting and turning into another political show.
There are so many things rushing through my head, that I feel like I'm shutting down. One of my greatest wishes was to meet her, but now I can only wish to make her proud. I've looked to this 5'1" woman from Brooklyn who was larger than life itself. She was the very meaning of strength.
I keep finding myself at a loss of words, and then a flood of emotion. What should one do when the person who got them a seat at any and every table succumbs to the inevitability that is mortality?
If not for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we would still be allowed to be discriminated against on the basis of sex. Whether you realize it or not, your life has been touched by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has fought for the rights of women, men, LGBTQ+, although she was not the first, she was the very definition of what it means to be a feminist. She believed that you, yes you, the person reading this right now, she believed that you are a human, a person, therefore, you have undeniable rights. She believed this for your brothers, your sisters, your cousins, she believed if for your gender non-conforming family members.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a person unlike any other, she did things because they were right, and for no other reason. She could have friends from any side of the aisle, differences aside. She was this small, soft-spoken woman, but in the minds of all, she was larger than life itself.
I like many other young women looked up to Justice Ginsburg, her life, and her legacy was what opened my eyes to the fight for human rights, and she will forever be in my heart, and dearly missed.
The legacy She Left Behind
I would first like to say that I could not possibly touch on everything that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has done, so I'm going to touch on a few specific things that show you what type of person she was, then give resources for you to learn more about her and what she did. She deserves more than what I can give you of her.
During her time in a previously all male law school, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's husband fell ill with cancer. During this time RBG went to not only her classes, but also her husband's. She would sit in on his classes and take notes, afterwards she'd go home to her husband and teach to him what he would've done in class that day.
Even as her time was spread thin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated top of her class, as the only woman in her class.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg touched the lives of those who worked for her. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Clerks would have children, she would send them personal notes, as well as a baby sized t-shirt that said “RBG Grandclerk”
In a Time Magazine article, written by one of Justice Ginsburg's former, and one of her original clerks, Margo Schlanger stated that "It was an incredible, unrepeatable privilege to serve close-up as she started her Supreme Court tenure", she reminisced about the life lessons Ginsburg had taught her, and how her and her now husband both clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg 2-years apart, and the connected over the Justice.
The Lives of Young Girls
Many young girls all across the country look up to the Notorious RBG for the amazing life she lived. She paved the way for us to exist as people, and woman of all ages have looked up to and honored her for the hero that she is. For many years she has been a popular Halloween costume.
Her Final Wish
Before her untimely death, Ruth Bader Ginsburg told her grandchild “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed”. This has legal standing due to the precedent that the Republican-held Senate set when Justice Scalia spontaneously passed of a heart attack in February 2016.
Many Republican leaders wouldn't allow President Obama his choice to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court, leaving an empty seat until Neil Gorsuch was installed after the 2017 inauguration. The same precedent should be followed now.
No nomination until inauguration. The American people should pick the person who picks our next Justice. If you are an American citizen, and you want to help honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's final wish, text RBG to 50409 to alert your local representatives that you believe that Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat should remain unfilled until after January 20th, the day of the inauguration.
More about the Notorious RBG
The ACLU did an amazing piece on Ruth Bader Ginsburg that broke down her life and her career. This was an excellent read about her because stylistically, you hear a lot of the story from her perspective. But it also allows you to see her in a historical light, as well as where she came in and what, or rather who came before her.
The ACLU has a few pieces on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is understandable because she worked for the ACLU. She directed the Women’s Rights Project from its 1972 when it started, until she was appointed to federal bench in 1980.
The Harvard Gazette has a collection of pieces by different authors of who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, and what she meant to them. Some things this collection talks about is her life before the bench, her connections to Harvard, as well as specific court cases she tried.
One from this collection that I personally love is the one by Vicki C. Jackson which was an eloquent piece about RBG's passions, and they poked through in everything she did, as well as the lasting affects her passion had on those around her.
History has a page dedicated to Justice Ginsburg. If you don't know, History.com/The History Channel, gives a factual briefing of a person, place, or event without bias or anecdote. This would be a great place to learn the basics of her achievements to then look further into later. History's article about her lacks those personal stories that are moving and heart touching. But, this RBG deposition is great at letting her accomplishments stand for themselves.
One of my favorite parts about this article is talking about her time in Harvard, in which it states “The women were chided by the law school’s dean for taking the places of qualified males. But Ginsburg pressed on and excelled academically, eventually becoming the first female member of the prestigious legal journal, the Harvard Law Review”. This statement represents who she was and what she stood for.
On the Basis of Sex. On the Basis of Sex is a movie based of the budding career of a young RBG. There are multiple movies based off of/about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I recommend each and every one of them to you.
My Final Statement
Oftentimes, we remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg like the Kate McKinnon persona of her, this larger than life, loud, in-your-face woman dishing out “Ginsburns” but in actuality, she was a 5ft 1, soft-spoken woman, who was strategic and had determination. And she believed, without a shadow of a doubt, that a person should not be judged on the basis of sex, she is the very meaning of strength.