Ruth Bader Ginsberg (or RBG, as I affectionately call her in my mind) is a serious badass on the U.S. Supreme Court. Seriously, if I were a poet, I would write an ode to her. Instead, I’m going to give you a bulleted list of her awesomeness.
- Was one of only nine women out of 500 in her class at Harvard Law
- First woman to be on two law reviews, Harvard law Review and Columbia Law Review
- Volunteer lawyer, member of Board of Directors, and general counsel for the ALCU (American Civil Liberties Union).
- First female tenured professor at Columbia University
- Co-founded and served as Director of the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU
- Second female U.S. Supreme Court justice
- First Jewish woman on the U.S. Supreme Court
- Challenged laws that made jury duty voluntary for women, as optional jury duty sent the message that women’s service was unnecessary to government functions
- Chosen by Al Gore to administer his oath of office
- Argued for the Equal Protection Clause to be applied to women.
- United States v. Virginia – majority opinion that struck down Virginia Military Academy’s male-only admission policy
- Olmstead v. LC – majority opinion that provided that mental illness is covered by the American with Disabilities Act and that institutional isolation is a form of discrimination
- Won the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award for her work in gender equality and civil rights (1999)
- Did not miss a single day in court when undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for colon cancer, and was hearing arguments 12 days after having surgery for early-stage pancreatic cancer
- Was on the bench the day after her husband of 56 years passed away
- Has been an outspoken proponent of women’s rights and reproductive liberties.
The conflict is not simply one between a fetus’ interest and a woman’s interest”¦ Also in the balance is a woman’s autonomous charge of her full life’s course, her ability to stand in relation to men, society and to stay as an independent, self-sustaining equal citizen. As long as the government paid for childbirth, the argument proceeded, public funding could not be denied for abortion, often a safer and always a far-less expensive course short and long term. By paying for childbirth but not abortion, the government increased spending and intruded upon or steered a choice Roe had ranked as a woman’s fundamental right.
Senator Hank Brown: [Asked Ginsburg about] equal rights for men and women on the question of abortion:
Ginsburg: I will rest my answer on the Casey decision, which says in the end it’s her body, her life, and men – to that extent – are not similarly situated. They don’t bear the child.
Brown: [Asked to explain further about whether] the rights of men and women are not equal in this case.
Ginsburg: I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling. If you impose restraints, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex. The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality.