Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies at 87

written By: Mo Juenger, world news editor

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic cancer of the pancreas last Saturday evening. She served on the Supreme Court for 27 years and fought passionately for gender equality. 

Ginsburg attended Cornell University for her undergraduate and Harvard University Law School. After graduation, she taught at Rutgers Law School, where she famously hid her pregnancy by wearing her mother-in-law’s clothes until she could get her contract renewed.

The late justice later became the first female tenured professor at Columbia University and founded the Women’s Rights Division of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ginsburg held her first judicial seat in 1980 and was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993. 

In an epochal 1996 decision, Ginsburg wrote the 7-1 decision allowing women to attend the highly-competitive Virginia Military Institute. 

This decision marked a meaningful portent of the work she would continue for years to gain educational and occupational equality for women. 

After the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, she became the liberal dissenting voice of the Supreme Court. 

In 2007, Ginsburg dissented in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear case, asking for legislation to remove limitations on back pay for victims of employment discrimination. The resulting bill was the first passed during the Obama administration. 

She dissented against the removal of a significant provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. “(It’s) like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” Ginsburg wrote. 

She dissented in the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, arguing that for-profit employers did not have the right to refuse the inclusion of birth control in their health insurance plans. 

“I do think that I was born under a very bright star,” Ginsburg said. 

“I get out of law school. I have top grades. No law firm in the city of New York will hire me. I end up teaching; it gave me time to devote to the movement for evening out the rights of women and men,” she added.

Ginsburg is survived by her children, Jane and Steven. She will lie in state on Friday at the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall — the first woman ever to do so.

“Justice Ginsburg’s legacy on the Court will be one that was both fierce and fair, but it was also her success as a civil rights litigator before that very same Court who leveraged real, lived experiences – including her own –that lead us to a much more inclusive and powerful understanding of equality.” 

– Sean Rhiney, Director of Eigel Center 

“Justice Ginsburg’s legacy as an advocate for gender equality will continue to inspire millions of Americans to keep fighting for what is right, even in the face of extreme adversity.”

– Andrew Geraghty, Chief of Staff of College Democrats

“As a prolific figure in American history, Justice Ginsburg’s legacy as a leader in women’s rights and gender equality will serve as an inspiration to many for decades to come. Her endearing, long-term friendship with Justice Scalia serves as a reminder that we are more than our ideological differences.”

– Isabella Prolizo, President of College Republicans

“I hope RBG’s legacy will extend beyond her excellent advocacy for gender equity and principled, well-reasoned and compelling dissent from majority opinions. I hope she will also be remembered as someone who took responsibility for broadening her own incomplete perspective by seeking out diverse voices. Her history of rulings on Indigenous rights, for instance, usefully reminds me of the capacity we all have to learn, change our minds and fight for inclusivity to the end: this, too, is why she is a role model for me.” 

-Kristen Renzi, Associate Professor of English