You do not honor RBG’s history of resistance by surrendering.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg died tonight, and while this is a challenging time, this is not over.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said in a dictated statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera days before her death tonight, according to NPR.
President Clinton appointed Ginsberg to the Supreme Court in 1993.
She joined a Supreme Court that, owing to Nixon, Reagan, and Bush, had moved further right. A court that was determined to dismantle the work of the previous Supreme Court. A Court that upheld the 1964 Civil Rights Act in many cases the most pivotal being the Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States case, which interpreted the act as also applying to the private sector, something the 14th Amendment was not able to penetrate.
Ginsberg believed that the Constitution was a living and breathing document that should adopt for the times and in the best interest of people and justice.
Ginsburg’s Martin-Quinn score following the 2019 term was -2.9, making her the second-most liberal justice on the court at that time, behind Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
In the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case that allowed employers to not offer contraception for religious beliefs Ginsberg wrote the dissenting decision against a ruling that resulted in the 2014 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows employers to deny contraception coverage to employees.
Ginsburg authored a 5-4 majority opinion in the 2018 Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill a rare recent liberal win. The court struck down illegal racial gerrymandering in Virginia.
In 1994 Jerome McCristal Culp, Jr in the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy published, “An open letter from one Black scholar to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg or How to not become Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.” In this letter that starts, “I am asking you not to take the path blazed by your gender predecessor, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.” It continues by challenging Ginsberg to do what O’Connor had not used the court for, to also protect Black Americans.
Ginsberg lead the ACLU Women’s Rights Project from its 1972 founding until her appointment by President Carter to the federal bench in 1980. There she argued more than 300 gender discrimination. She argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976.
As a federal judge and on the Supreme Court, she was a fierce women’s rights advocate.
But did she rise to the challenge of Culp? Did she fight for racial justice?
In 2016 in regards to Kaepernick kneeling for police violence, she stated:
“I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning.”
She later apologized.
That is an err in a long career fighting for justice and equality.
“The great man who led the march from Selma to Montgomery and there called for the passage of the Voting Rights Act foresaw progress, even in Alabama. ‘The arc of the moral universe is long,’ he said, but ‘it bends toward justice,’ if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.“— Shelby County v. Holder (2013) (Notorious RBG oral dissent, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
She wrote the dissenting opinion against the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder. The case which was the beginning of the dismantling of the Voters Right Act. All the problems we had with the election in 2016 and the problems we will having with voting rights in the future is in part related to that case. That modern case shows the power and the importance of the Supreme Court.
For me her legacy stands, and while times look bleak all is not lost. In the United States we have had been through bleaker times, and we have gotten through it, and we will get through this.
The United States is not one person. It is all of US. Not one person can save us, and not one person can kill us.
May her memory be a blessing. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died a human being, and in times like these, it is a rare and honorable way to pass.