As many of you are aware, the U.S. Supreme Court announced on Friday, Sept. 18 that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Her death signifies the loss of a judicial titan, an icon and a champion of women’s rights among other freedoms, who selflessly led a life of public service on the nation’s highest court for almost three decades and whose career paved the way for so many of us in the legal profession.
Among Justice Ginsburg’s greatest achievements was her collective work advocating for women’s rights and gender equality. In 1972, partly due to her own experiences with sex-based discrimination both before, during and after law school, she co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project and served as its director until 1980 when she was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. During her tenure, Justice Ginsburg successfully argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, making significant legal advances for women under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and which actively discouraged state legislatures from treating men and women differently under law. She continued this passion from the bench, writing the majority opinion for the case U.S. v. Virginia, which held that qualified women could not be denied admission to Virginia Military Institute, and fiercely protecting women’s reproductive rights. Although she always felt that major social change should come from Congress and state legislatures instead of the courts, when a 2007 Title VII case was denied due to the statute of limitations issue, she worked with President Obama to pass the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first bill he signed into law.
Due to the tireless efforts of her any many others, Justice Ginsburg paved a path forward for women not only in general, but specifically in the legal field. For example, in her first year at Harvard Law School, there were only nine women in a class of 500 students and as of 2018, women account for 52.38% of all law students in this country and 38% of all working attorneys.
As we reflect on her brilliant life and career, a few of our own attorneys have shared the following thoughts on the strong legacy she has left behind:
“After her first year of law school she made the Harvard law review and took care of her infant daughter while helping her husband get through law school when he was unable to attend as a result of his cancer. For those of you who attended Loyola law school you should know that on several occasions due to her friendship with one of the deans she was a guest speaker during the summer program in Rome. In 2018 my daughter Laura who was a graduate of Loyola law attended the summer program as a guest and told me she was amazed at RBG’s wit. She was also left handed which definitely shows her brilliance.” – Ed Josephson
“What I find extraordinary about Justice Ginsburg is how she never stopped. She constantly worked toward what she believed was right and just, she relentlessly advocated as the voice for different demographics and she broke new ground on many causes for the common good for our country. Her profound determination and fortitude are unparalleled. She blazed the trail ahead for many of us, including myself. Had it not been for women like Justice Ginsburg, I may not have the life I have today, for which I am very grateful. I may not have had the opportunity to practice in a career that I find fulfilling and fascinating, with colleagues whom I enjoy, and ostensibly, I may not be married to my husband, whom I started dating in law school and whom I adore – yes, even after 192 days of quarantine.
I will continue to honor Justice Ginsburg by exhibiting good in the world and being kind while standing up for what I believe is right. I am appreciative to have witnessed the impact of the Notorious RBG and her historic life and legacy.” – Julie Gardner
“Justice Ginsburg could go down as the most beloved Supreme Court Justice ever, when you consider her popularity, nickname (Notorious RBG), and movies about her life. Sadly, the names of the members of the Supreme Court aren’t as well-known as they should be, but Justice Ginsburg has garnered attention from people of all ages. Her accomplishments as a lawyer are legendary, and regardless of your political affiliation, demand respect and admiration from everyone. Her friendship with the late Justice Scalia, despite their clear differences in beliefs and politics, is indicative of her charisma and character.” – Mitch Weinstein
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. May you rest in peace.