Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a beloved and inspiring champion of women’s rights, died Friday in her home in Washington with family by her side. She was 87.
Ginsberg was suffering from a fifth battle with cancer, this time metastatic cancer in her pancreas, but this did little to slow her down throughout her life. Ginsberg said in July that she was able to continue her job full steam after a positive result.
As a Justice, Ginsberg was hailed by younger generations as a feminist icon, connecting with the liberal youth who often dubbed her “Notorius R.B.G.” Her legacy as the second woman ever appointed to the court, in 1993, begins far before then.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg began her inspiring educational career at Cornell University, then going on to law school at both Harvard and Columbia. Ginsberg was the first woman to ever serve on the Harvard Law Review, and did so all while caring for her sick husband Martin and their first child Jane. She graduated from Columbia University as the first in her class.
Before her time on the bench, she argued six cases for gender equality before the supreme court, which certainly set a precedent for the work she would go on to do. One such case, Weinberger v. Wiesenfield was the core case around which RBG, the 2018 biopic, centered to show Ginsberg’s successes.
“Her project was to free both sexes,” wrote the New York Times, “men as well as women, from the roles that society had assigned them.”
Ginsberg tirelessly wrote dissents toward laws she felt were discriminatory, but was strong in her belief that the courts should not be the source of social change, according to Oyez. However, her influence on gender discrimination cases leaves her hailed as “the most important woman lawyer in the history of the republic,” according to Politico.
In order to honor this legacy and continue fighting for the rights of Americans, Ginsberg requested in her final days that her spot on the court not be filled until a new president was installed. Yet, President Trump intends to push forward with a new nominee by Saturday, only a week after her passing.
Many are fighting for Ginsberg’s wishes to be honored, not only in her memory, but for the sake of political consistency. When Justice Scalia, who Ginsberg worked closely with, died in 2016, Republican senate leader Mitch McConnel insisted the spot not be filled by President Obama. Now, he is supporting a nomination from President Trump going forward before election day.
Ginsberg’s work as both a lawyer and a judge changed the fabric of America in many ways. Her landmark cases creating legislation against gender equality served as a social change for America in equal rights.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals,” President Obama wrote in a social media post Friday night. “That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored.”
With a tight election just on the horizon, many Americans are calling for Ginsberg’s position to be left open until it is clear who will be in office come 2021.
While her successor is still unsure, her legacy is concrete. Ruth Bader Ginsberg will be remembered as a tireless activist for gender equality, a trailblazer of what once was considered undoable for women and an inspiration to many.