Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court


Samantha Baker, @sdionbakerdesign on Instagram

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passes away on September 18, 2020.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court

Two-thirds of Americans can’t name a single justice. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, however, managed to achieve celebrity-like fame. References to her in lyrics, multiple movies, Saturday Night Live skits, and appearances in late-night television circuits made the “Notorious RBG” an exception to the anonymity of other justices. Her work around women’s rights made her a feminist icon. T-shirts and coffee mugs bearing her image cement her place in popular culture.

However, her recent passing provoked a deeper interest in both Ginsburg’s life and politics. The timing of her death in the middle of an election cycle makes the filling of her seat one of the top rallying cries among candidates and voters. Presidential Nominee Joe Biden has been pressed about his position on the topic. “If elected, what I will do is, I’ll put together a national commission, a bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative” Biden told Norah O’Donnell of CBS News. “I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack.”

This “commission” would have been unheard of around the early 1800s where the court was so unimportant; the court used to meet in the basement of Congress. The first Supreme Court was constructed with only six justices, seeing that Congress did not envisage the amount of power it would one day bear. The incredibly powerful Justices can instantly strike down any law that can take years to pass, at any time for any of a million reasons. Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg worked as a lawyer for the ACLU, challenging the decisions that had been made by the courts. Below are some interesting facts about her that took me by surprise.

1. Ginsburg lost her mother, Celia Amster Bader, to cancer the day before her high-school graduation as well as her sister, Marilyn, who died of Meningitis at 6, when Ruth was 14 months old.
2. She enrolled at Harvard Law School where she was one of only nine women in a class of about 500 men.
3. RBG graduated top of her class but gender discrimination would permeate her post-grad life.
4. Known for her friendship with her conservative colleagues, Ginsburg was confirmed by the Senate by an overwhelming majority: 96-3
5. She was the second woman ever appointed to our highest court and from 2006 – 2009, she was the sole woman on the court.
6. Ginsburg was one of eight Jewish justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court.
7. She developed a brilliant legal strategy to fight sex discrimination: find male plaintiffs to challenge laws that discriminated “on the basis of sex.”
8. Obama anticipated that Democrats would potentially lose control of the Senate and urged Ginsburg to retire to ensure that a younger, liberal judge would be appointed. She refused, making it very clear that her work on the court would not cease.

Following her death, people around the country poured tributes. Former President Clinton, who appointed Justice Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, called her “one of the most extraordinary justices to ever serve on the Supreme Court.” “Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and landmark opinions moved us closer to a more perfect union,” he wrote on Twitter. Indeed, her many years of service and the numerous obstacles she overcame will continue to serve as inspiration for many in the years to come.