By: KATE SAARI
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That name on it’s own holds so much meaning and power for our history. Ruth is one of the many people in our world that has made a true difference. Since she was young, she was constantly being told she couldn’t do it. Whether it was to go to Harvard, become a Supreme Court Justice, or overall do things better than a man. It wasn’t easy for her to do all these things with the time period she was raised in, but she managed to do it all and do it well. People always tried to give general excuses to why she wasn’t capable of succeeding, like the fact she was a mother, or her religion, or simply because she was ‘just’ a woman. Ruth Bader Ginsburg never let anyone tell her no and because of this, she is one of the most well known Justices in our society. Not only was she an inspiring representative for women, Ginsburg stood up for every race, sexuality, and gender. Although we lost such an icon during a time we needed her most, she has accomplished so much for us to learn from and continue on with the legacy.
In 1933, on March 15th, Ruth Joan Bader was born in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in a low income household beside her hard working parents. Ginsburg had a sister, Marlyn Bader, but sadly she passed away at the age of 6 from meningitis when Ruth was only 14 months old. With Ginsburg being an only child primarily all her life, the only woman figure she had was truly her mother. As her mother didn’t attend college herself, she worked in a garment factory to support her brother’s education. Ruth noticed and appreciated her mother’s compassion towards others and it forever influenced her. Her mother was a major influence in Ruth’s philosophies, identifying the importance of education and independence. This motivated Ruth to be at the best of her abilities and finished school with excellent grades. Even though her mother lost her battle to cancer the day before Ruth’s high school graduation, Ruth still continued her journey to Cornell University to fulfill her dreams of being an attorney.
While Ruth attended Cornell, she met and married her husband, Marty Ginsburg, as well as graduating at the top of her class in 1954. Their first year of marriage wasn’t easy, since Marty was drafted into the army that same year. When he came back after 2 years, Marty and Ruth both enrolled into Harvard Law School. Her experience during this time taught her the struggles and joys of being a working mother and also being a law student. In her class, she also encountered the male dominant environment at Harvard, with there only being 9 women out of the 500 students. With that, their law school’s dean castigated the woman for taking men’s spots in the program. Although, this didn’t stop Ruth from surpassing with her studies and becoming the first female member of the prestigious legal journal, the Harvard Law Review. Ruth vocalized “The study of law was unusual for women of my generation. For most girls growing up in the 1940s, the most important degree was not your B.A., but your M.R.S.” With Marty trying to find a job in New York, Ruth then transferred to Columbia University School of Law and ended up at the top of her class. But, finding a job was very difficult. No matter how much schooling and accomplishments she had achieved, no one seemed to take her seriously to employ her. Ruth then decided instead of becoming an attorney, she would teach law and she did this at Rutgers School of Law, becoming the second woman ever to teach full time at that college.
This is when Ruth Bader Ginsburg really started to fight for equal rights. She served as a director of the Woman’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, in which she argued 6 landmark cases on gender equality in front of the U.S Supreme Court. She also believed that the law was gender-blind and every class was entitled to equal rights. One of the five cases she won among the Supreme Court involved a section of the Social Security Act that favored women over men because it granted particular benefits to widows but not widowers. Ruth chose cases like this one, because if you give men more rights, you end up giving women more as well. Her work became recognized when president Jimmy Carter appointed Ruth to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She worked there until she was taken in by the U.S Supreme Court in 1993 by Bill Clinton to replace former Justice Byron White. Ruth made quite an impression in the court, which caused 96-3 of the Senators to confirm her position. This made Ruth Bader Ginsburg the court’s second female justice as well as the first Jewish female justice. Ruth voiced for gender equality and the rights of workers and the separation of church and state. Because of this, she won the Thurgood Marshall Award for her contributions to gender equality and civil rights. As Ruth says, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg made such an impact on our world. She changed the way people saw women and their privileges, the LGTBQ+ community, and proved you can do something if you put your mind to it. She opened so many possibilities, so everyone can have the same opportunity to do what they want. Some other things Ginsburg also attained was writing several books on the basis of sex discrimination, never dreaded going to work, and maintained a healthy lifestyle. Not only did Ruth Bader Ginsburg do this for herself, she wanted to change the prejudiced rules and create a place where everyone is treated fairly, no matter what gender you are. Even though we lost Ruth Bader Ginsburg to metastatic pancreatic cancer, she left us the key to continue on her legacy. We as American people can pursue Ginsburg’s message and create a place where everyone matters. “We are a nation made strong by people like you.” said by Ruth Bader Ginsburg to new American citizens. Rest in power to an incredible figure known as the “Notorious RBG.”