Rest in Power, Notorious RBG
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Shanaya Daughtrey
TUSCALOOSA, AL- Imagine being accepted into the law school of your dreams, only to be called to the dean’s office along with eight other women to be asked “Why are you here taking up spaces that could have been occupied by men?”
Imagine applying for a credit card only to be rejected because a man’s name is not on the application.
Imagine working just as hard as your male counterpart, doing the same amount of work, only to make less money.
A fierce champion of race and gender equality, U.S Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a woman of relentless fortitude and determination that stretched far beyond what she was able to achieve in court.
As a student at Harvard Law, she had to grapple with being one of eight women out of a class of over 500 men.
Regardless of setbacks and travails that occurred during law school, Ginsburg refused to crumble under the weight of adversity.
On top of juggling her roles as a mother and wife, when her husband fell ill of cancer, Ginsburg attended his classes, took his notes and ultimately helped him recover.
Before her ascension to the Supreme Court, at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, Ginsburg spearheaded a campaign against sex-role stereotyping in the law, arguing and winning five landmark Supreme Court cases during the 1970s- Frontiero v. Richardson, Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, Califano v. Goldfarb, Duren v. Missouri, and Edwards v. Healy.
Despite her setbacks and bouts with one of the most lethal forms of cancer–pancreatic– her zeal, persistence, determination and fervor in the fight for social justice and equality for both men and women, never wavered.
Appointed by former President Bill Clinton on Aug.10, 1993, Ginsburg became the second woman to sit on the distinguished United States Supreme Court bench.
During her time as an associate justice on the court, Ginsburg wrote opinions that advocated for both racial and gender equality.
“Justice Ginsburg shaped the court in a way that is easy to see but difficult to describe,” said University of Alabama Assistant Professor of Political Science Allen Linken. “One of her lasting legacies is certainly her push for gender equality as an advocate.”
In United States v. Virginia- in which the Supreme Court struck down the long-standing male-only admission policy of the Virginia Military Institute in a 7–1 decision, Ginsburg’s majority opinion maintained unconstitutional the Virginia Military’s institute’s practice of excluding qualified women from admission solely based on sex.
Even though Ginsburg was a warrior for women’s rights during her time as an attorney, she advocated on the behalf of men as well.
“Attorney Ginsburg argued before the court generally looking for cases where men and women were treated differently. In the natural assumption when you hear that, is to say she represented the women. She didn’t,” said Linken. “She represented the men. She represented the men in cases where men and women were treated differently. A good example is Frontier v. Richardson.”
Ginsburg’s oral dissent in Shelby v. Holder — a landmark case regarding the constitutionality of two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — crowned her the “Notorious RBG,” coined after rapper Notorious B.I.G.
Christopher Wallace a.k.a Notorious B.I.G. was big and boisterous.
The Notorious RBG, on the other hand, was small in stature but spoke with a quiet strength, making her a force to be reckoned with on the court.
Before Ginsburg’s passing, I can truthfully say I was unaware of many of her monumental contributions to social justice and her many “firsts.”
Ginsburg became the first female member of the prestigious legal journal, the Harvard Law Review.
At Columbia University, she became the first female tenured professor.
She was also the first Jewish woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The liberal icon also became the first justice to have two viewings at the Supreme Court and the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
The life of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has touched the hearts and lives of both women and men in every corner of this country.
As a Black woman in America, many of the luxuries that I have access to now were tenaciously fought for and can be accredited to Ginsburg.
“Arguments have been made that she is to gender as Thurgood Marshall is to race,” said Linken.
Today women can apply for a credit card without the permission of a man.
Women who choose to enter a male-dominated career, can no longer be questioned about their ability to be there.
And as a result of the landmark civil rights case, Obergefell v. Hodges, both men and women have the right to love who they want to love.
With our country being so divided and chaotic at this moment, Justice Ginsburg left a model of what we could be.
She and Associate Justice Scalia were polar opposites — he was an ultra-conservative and she was a liberal.
Yet they were able to cast aside their differences and maintain their friendship until the day he died.
The effects of Ginsburg’s work is ingrained throughout our society.
And maybe one day the University of Alabama will see its first female collegiate football kicker run out of the tunnel on game day at Bryant–Denny Stadium.
Rest in Power, RBG.