By IYWP Interns Kelsey Foster & Kelsey Borbeck
On September 18th, 2020 the United States suffered a tremendous loss, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer. As the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg made huge strides in the fight for women’s rights and equality and opened doors for women in politics, business, the Armed Forces, and everyday life.
Her political career began in 1980 when she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. After serving 13 years, she accepted the Supreme Court nomination by President Jimmy Carter in 1993.
Timeline of RBG’s Most Influential Cases:
1996: Associate Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in the case of United States v. Virginia, stating that qualified women could not be denied admission to the Virginia Military Institute
(click here for more info).
1999: Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in the case of Olmstead v. LC, where two women were forcibly held in a mental institution after their treatments were finished. The court ruled in favor of the women’s freedom and agreed that Georgia violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. In her opinion, Justice Ginsburg wrote about the widespread wrongful discrimination against individuals with mental disabilities (click here for more info).
2007: She held the dissenting opinion in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to favor the female plaintiff, suing for not receiving equal pay as her male counterparts. The court ruled against the female plaintiff, which inspired Justice Ginsburg to extend her written dissenting opinion and read it before the court. No one had ever done this before, Justice Ginsburg broke tradition, but changed history (click here for more info).
2009: She continued to fight against the gender discrimination shown in the previous case. She called upon Congress to help her reverse the ruling of the case, and later worked with President Barack Obama to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (click here for more info).
2013: In another of her famous dissenting opinions, Justice Ginsburg fought against the ruling in Shelby County v. Holder which got rid of a protection act that stopped voting discrimination in specific states. Throwing out this act now made it harder for minority communities to be able to vote, and Justice Ginsburg disagreed (click here for more info).
2015: Namely one of the most important cases to happen this year was Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that granted same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Many believe that Justice Ginsburg’s consistent support and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community helped this ruling to be achieved (click here for more info).
2016: In the case of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt focused on tearing down Texas’s Omnibus Abortion Bill which restricted the actions and liberties of abortion clinics in the state. The court, along with Justice Ginsburg, ruled in favor of getting rid of the bill, and Justice Ginsburg even wrote a concurring opinion in which she addressed the importance of reproductive health and support for women and giving women the power of choice over their bodies. She urged for the recognition of abortion clinics and the multitude of ways that they support women’s health and provide them with safe treatment options (click here for more info).
We want to encourage you to participate in one of the following activities to honor RBG’s life and work!
- RBG was famous for being unafraid of openly dissenting to ideas she didn’t agree with. Write about a time when you dissented, challenged, or stood up to someone. How did you feel (before, during, after)? What was their reaction? Did anything hold you back from speaking out?
- Reflect on Ginsburg’s legacy of fighting for equal rights for both sexes. To what extent do you think we have achieved gender equality? How has Ginsburg’s work towards gender equality affected your life, if at all?
- What do we need to do as everyday citizens, a community, or as a nation to continue Ginsburg’s legacy? What else can we do to improve equality and what needs to change in society in order to execute these improvements on a large scale?
- Write a story about a powerful female character; Where does she live? What does she do? How does she inspire or help other characters in the story? What makes her so powerful?
I Dissent—Debbie Levy
Notorious RBG–Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
My Own Words–Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams
Becoming RBG–Debbie Levy and Whitney Gardner
I Know This To Be True–Ruth Bader Ginsburg
If you want to learn more, or check out our sources, follow these links: