The Notorious RBG’s Notorious Legacy

Clara Sorkin

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg truly lived up to her title, bringing justice to marginalized and alienated groups. At age 47, Ginsberg was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter. 13 years later, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Supreme Court, only the second woman to ever be a justice in the highest court in the land. Even before her time on the Supreme Court, RBG made tremendous strides in advocating for women’s rights and furthering equality. However, RBG’s life was far from easy, and she had to fight exceptionally hard to earn what she deserved. 

After graduating from college, Ginsberg attended Harvard law school, where she was one of the only eight women out of the 500 people in her graduating class. After transferring to law school at Columbia University, RBG was determined to start her career, but was turned away from countless job opportunities despite her extensive education. After teaching law school at Rutgers, she became the first tenured professor at the university. Later on, she went on to serve as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for which she ended up arguing six landmark cases on gender equality before the Supreme Court. Her first case that was brought to the Supreme Court was based on defending Lieutenant Sharon Frontiero in 1971 after not being compensated with the same military allowances as her male counterparts. Ginsberg explained that the U.S. had a “long history of gender-based discrimination, the court should use a strict standard of judicial scrutiny for laws that used sex as a classification” (History.com). 

Throughout her career, Ginsberg ended up bringing six cases to the Supreme Court, and won five out of those six cases, a paramount achievement for anyone at the time, but even more so because she was a woman. Eventually, Ginsberg was confirmed to the Supreme Court with a nearly unanimous vote: 96 in favor, 3 opposed. Aside from being the court’s second female justice, she was also the first Jewish justice to serve on the court. Throughout her time on the Supreme Court, RBG strongly voiced her stance in favor of gender equality, worker’s rights, and the separation of church and state. Additionally, Ruth Bader Ginsberg became one of the more well-known justices for wearing her iconic “dissent collar,” a necklace she would wear over her robes whenever she expressed her opinion through a dissent, meaning when her opinion would differ from the majority. One of Ginsberg’s most famous dissenting opinions is the one in the case of Bush vs. Gore, which effectively decided the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Because of her progressive belief system, these collars not only became a sign of RBG’s major strides in equality, but also her perseverance and strong will. 

On September 18th, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsberg died after battling metastatic pancreatic cancer for nearly 20 years. Her two decades living with this agonizing disease provide further evidence for her bravery and commitment to justice and equality. She will be remembered by these traits for years to come, and her success has and will change our country and the world.