We grieve for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Throughout her life, Justice Ginsburg embodied effort, determination, and passion. Effort, because she persisted, starting law school in 1956 with a one-year-old child, finding a way to balance being a mother and a student when the world taught that a woman’s place was at home with her children. Determination, because she succeeded, in law school, in securing a federal clerkship, in becoming a Supreme Court Justice, and in finding inventive and ingenious ways to bring the Court to understand that the Constitution truly applies to every inhabitant and citizen of the United States, despite gender, race, disability, or citizenship status. And passion, because she always upheld her beliefs that the Constitution is a broad and generous document. Even as the balance of power shifted on the Supreme Court and the most activist court in history began rolling back civil and civic rights, when she was increasingly on the minority side, Justice Ginsburg continued to construct carefully argued dissents. She affirmed that her principled dissents are designed to blaze a path to which future Supreme Court Justices can return, when timeless issues of equality and fairness are once again considered.
Justice Ginsburg’s opinion are especially notable, whether for the majority or in dissent. In United States v. Virginia, 1996, she wrote the majority opinion, finding that women should have equal access to education at the Virginia Military Institute, based on the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. She wrote a powerful dissent concerning pay discrimination in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, 2007, prompting Congress to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. She wrote for the majority in Safford United School District v. Redding, 2009, upholding our Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable government search and seizure; in Friends of the Earth v. Laid law Environmental Services, 2000, to prevent environmental pollution; and in support for disability rights in Olmstead v. L.C., 1999. Three of her most significant dissents, each of which concerned upholding the integrity of our political and election processes, were Bush v. Gore, 2000; Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010; and Shelby County v. Holder, 2013.
We honor Justice Ginsburg for her courage and for her clarity. For her courage, in her repeated battles with cancer and her effort to live past the 2020 election. For her clarity, in her last words to her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until anew president is installed.”