RBG: A Look Back on an American Hero

By Devyn Shea (TheLorian)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Notorious R.B.G., Justice Ginsburg, legal pioneer, American icon. There aren’t enough words or names in the English language (or any language) that can completely describe the kind of woman Ruth Bader Ginsburg was. R.B.G. had a huge impact on the lives of millions of Americans. Let’s take a look at who R.B.G. was, what she did, and how her death is going to impact America.

Ruth Joan Bader was born in Brooklyn in 1933 in a community that was poor. She was challenged with obstacles right from the beginning. Her mother passed away right before her graduation from high school and when she was in college, she was ostracized by her dean, because of her gender. While in college she got married to Martin Ginsburg. Now, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she and her husband were to get their respected degrees at Harvard. While there, Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Ruth had to juggle being a mom, getting notes from her husband’s classes, while studying for her own classes. Later on, Martin would recover from cancer and eventually they would both get their degrees to start their careers (Ruth getting hers from Columbia Law).

Ginsburg clerked for a judge and was a professor for a number of years after college. Before being appointed to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980, she won 5 cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Those cases included one about men being preferred over women when it came to inheritance after death and another where single fathers didn’t get a tax deduction. In these cases, she fought for both men and women, one to make it equal for inheritance and the other to make it equal for single parents.

In 1993, Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court and she became an Associate Justice by a vote of 96-3. While a Justice on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg heard a case about the Virginia Military Institute refusing to let in women in the landmark case: United States v. Virginia. The U.S. had stated that the institute had violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled as stated in Ginsburg’s majority opinion that the institute did not show an “exceedingly persuasive justification” for its preferred gender admissions into its school.

Ginsburg, who was liberal leaning, had very good relations with her conservative colleagues, most notably, Antonin Scalia. While on the court, Ginsberg made many famous dissenting opinions, one of the most notable was when she said “I dissent” instead of saying it with a respectful context, which had been previously done in the years before. Her dissent was in opposition of the Supreme Court’s siding with George Bush in the controversial election of 2000. In the past 20 years Ginsburg has been known for supporting civil and voting rights of all kinds. In the past decade she has become a feminist and liberal icon, even getting the nickname the Notorious R.B.G.

With the death of Justice Ginsberg, uncertainty follows. Mitch McConnell has already stated he will have the U.S. Senate vote on whoever President Trump picks as his nominee. In 2016, when Barack Obama picked Merrick Garland, Mitch McConnell prevented a vote on the nominee. His reasoning was that it was an election year and the next President should decide, which seems to be something he is backtracking now. As a vote in the U.S. Senate is to ensue, some senators such as Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska and Susan Collins (R) of Maine said they will not vote for a nominee until after the election. One thing is certain with the death of R.B.G.: America has lost a hero. It will be hard to fill her shoes.

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