“By her learning she taught devotion to the law. By her dignity she taught respect for others and her love for America. By her reverence for the Constitution, she taught us to preserve it to secure our freedom.” former Justice Anthony Kennedy stated.
On Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at her home in Washington, D.C. at age 87. The Supreme Court announced that the cause of death was from complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.
“Today, our Nation mourns the loss of a trailblazer, not only in the field of law, but in the history of our country.” the White House states in its official proclamation on Justice Ginsburg’s death. “Her legacy and contribution to American history will never be forgotten.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, she married Martin D. Ginsburg and had her first child. She then went to Harvard Law School before transferring to Columbia Law School, where she jointly graduated first in her class.
As one of the few women in her field, Ginsburg was unable to find work at any law firms in New York and instead became a professor teaching civil procedure. She was an advocate for women’s rights and gender equality and was a volunteer attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s.
Ginsburg was appointed in 1980 by former President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and served there until she was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 to replace former Justice Byron White. She served as an Associate Justice for the past 27 years on the nation’s highest court. Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, following Sandra Day O’Connor.
“No American has ever done more than Justice Ginsburg to ensure equal justice under law for women. She was a cherished colleague, and she inspired me, and all of us, with her unparalleled work ethic and devotion to the law. A meticulous and pathmarking judge, she held herself to the highest standards of precision and accuracy in her beautifully crafted opinions. And she inspired all of us to try to meet those same exacting standards.” Justice Brett Kavanaugh said.
Ginsburg notably argued on issues of gender discrimination and abortion rights. In United States v. Virginia (1996), Ginsburg authored the court’s opinion that the Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admissions policy was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
“Renowned for her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg epitomized powerful yet respectful argument; that you can disagree with someone without being disagreeable to them. Justice Ginsburg’s work helped bring about greater equality for women, secure rights for the disabled, and will continue to influence our Nation for generations to come.” the White House stated.
In a 2009 New York Times interview, Ginsburg discussed her views on abortion: “the basic thing is that the government has no business making that choice for a women.” Ginsburg has persistently supported women’s rights and has notoriously dissented in cases involving restrictions on abortion rights.
“My dear friend and colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an American hero. She spent her life fighting for the equality of all people, and she was a pathbreaking champion of women’s rights. She served our Court and country with consummate dedication, tirelessness, and passion for justice. She has left a legacy few could rival.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said.
On Sept. 23-24, Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court, where the public may come and pay their respects, after a private ceremony among family, friends and justices in the Great Hall at the court. Next week, Ginsburg will have a private burial at Arlington National Cemetery, where she will be buried next to her husband Marty.