RBG Honoring one of America’s leading feminist voices
By Payton Williams
On Sept. 18, Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 87 years old.
In the days following her death, President Donald Trump has already appointed Republican judge Amy Coney Barret to take Ginsburg’s place.
Because of this, it is important to remember the woman Barrett will be replacing.
Beginning her tenure in 1993 during the Bill Clinton presidency, Ginsburg served 27 years of her life on the supreme court, establishing herself as one of the leading feminist voices in public service throughout that time.
She was known, even to her opponents, as a fierce speaker and legal mind. Former Republican Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia referred to her with admiration in an interview in 2013.
“She has done more to shape the law in this field than any other justice on this court,” Scalia said. “She will take a lawyer who is making a ridiculous argument and just shake him like a dog with a bone.”
Scalia’s faint praise bemused Ginsburg. When told about his remarks
in an interview in 2020, Ginsburg’s reply was simple.
“I wish he’d listened to me more,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg’s disagreement with Scalia represents a part of her peculiar place in US history. Throughout her public service career, Ginsburg was perhaps best recognized for her fiery dissents to decisions of the court.
One notable example from recent history came with her dissent in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case in 2014.
The Supreme Court ruled that certain companies could object to provisions in their health coverage plans, namely contraceptives, on the grounds of religious belief.
In Ginsburg’s dissent, she made it a point to note how the ruling would affect employees who do not share their employer’s religious beliefs and also pointed out the drastic difference in the cost of contraception for women as opposed to men.
“It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage,” Ginsburg said.
While Ginsburg’s dissents were often fiery and memorable, they also represented something that is key to understanding why Ginsburg was so important. Ginsburg dissented because she often found herself on the losing
side of the court’s rulings.
As a result, Ginsburg established herself as perhaps the loudest voice on the court on issues of feminism and in opposition to religious persecution on the court.
Ginsburg was the second woman ever to serve on the court and the first Jewish woman ever to do so, but these were far from the only things that
distinguished her from her colleagues.
Ginsburg was the loudest voice in opposition on the court. She stood up for what she believed even though she was often in the minority. Even though she often lost. Ruth Bader Ginsburg understood that there were worse
things in life than losing. She was a powerful voice dissenting in a court that drifted ever further from what she believed.
Without her voice on the court, who will come forward to dissent?