She smashed sexist stereotyping. Fueled the 20th century women’s rights revolution, and fundamentally changed the Supreme Court’s approach to equal justice. Now Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first woman and the first Jewish American to lie in state in the United States Capitol.
What does that mean?
For many women, we not only have an empty Supreme Court; we also have a gaping hole in our hearts.
If you’re like me, the sight of her flag-draped coffin is more than a little sad. And while she deserves to be mourned, you can bet that she wouldn’t want us to mourn for very long because our country needs us. RIGHT NOW.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”– RBG
On her deathbed, Ginsburg told her granddaughter that her most fervent wish is that she will not be replaced until a new president is installed. Yet within hours of Justice Ginsburg’s demise, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, supported by President Trump, vowed to push through a conservative replacement.
What do we have to lose? Well, let’s see; pretty much everything.
If President Trump gets to replace RGB with his pick, we stand to lose ground on decades of progress: Affordable healthcare, environmental safety, LBGTQ rights, reproductive freedom, truth in advertising, and the legitimacy of many of the democratic institutions that we hold dear.
So Let’s Fight.
If there’s one thing Ginsburg taught us by example is to fight– fight for what we believe in and never, ever give up.
Keep in mind, Ginsburg’s journey was not an easy one. She entered Harvard Law School in 1956 as one of only nine women in a class over more than 500. Yes, it was an environment hostile to women. Once she and her female classmates were asked by the dean why they were occupying seats that would otherwise be filled with men.
But of course, Ginsburg prevailed and wound up at the top of her class at Harvard and tied first place in the 1959 graduating class at Columbia Law School. This despite the fact that at the time she was caring for her young daughter and ailing husband.
Despite her stellar academic performance, Ginsburg was rejected by 13 law firms after graduating.
You guessed it; they were only hiring men. But rejection only served to hone her feminist instincts.
Propelled by her own experiences of discrimination, Ginsburg went on to enjoy a brilliant career long before Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court in 1993. This includes founding the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project and successfully arguing six landmark cases before the US Supreme Court.
“She will take a lawyer who is making a ridiculous argument and just shake him like a dog with a bone.”– Justice Antonin Scalia
The most important feminist lawyer in American history, Ginsburg will be known not only for her successes, but her fiery and forceful dissents. Example: In the middle of one Supreme Court session in 2013, Justice Ginsburg, in two separate dissents, castigated the court majority ruling of three cases.
The next day, Ginsburg hit ‘em upside the head with an even more scathing dissent when the majority court effectively struck down a critical part of the Voting Rights Act by a 5-to-4 vote. This, as Ginsburg predicted, reversed important gains in protecting voter rights. In her dissension, Ginsburg quipped “it was like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
But when the Court majority ruled against her in the 2007 Ledbetter v. Goodyear equal-pay case, she bypassed the Supreme Court decision and took the matter to Congress. In 2009, President Barrack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
“She dissents frequently and furiously; the era of “Notorious RBG” was born of these dissents.”– Jane Sherron De Hart
And so today, we mourn our loss, shed some tears and rage against the system. Then we pick ourselves up, toss out the empty Haagen-Dazs containers and do what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would do:
Strategize, mobilize and fight with everything we’ve got.
- Give all the Democratic candidates in the November election your wholehearted support. This is not just a presidential election. Many states, like Texas, have changed the rules on voting so that now you have a physically mark your vote for each candidate rather than vote a straight ticket. Take the time to do that.
- Get involved. Contact your local Democratic Party and ask what they need. Then volunteer as much time as you can.
- Guard against voter suppression efforts. If you have any problems voting call these hot lines immediately:
- English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683
- Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682
- The day you vote, grab 3 friends to vote with you. Try to encourage likely non-voters, especially young people, to come with you.
- Plan ahead! Make sure you’re registered and know well in advance the ground rules in your state. Decide if you’re going to early vote, mail in your vote (hurry!) or vote on election day. For personalized, state-specific information go to www.vote411.org/ or www.rockthevote.org/