The nation continues to mourn the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday only two months after announcing that her pancreatic cancer had resurfaced. She was 87.
Born to working class Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, Ginsburg would go on to break every boundary imaginable, first as one of only eight female law students at Harvard Law, and later as an effective litigator who argued matters of gender equality before the United State Supreme Court. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to sit on that very Court, only the second woman in history to serve on the nation’s highest legal tribunal.
In her 27 years as a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg continued to shape history as an empathetic and liberal champion, ultimately becoming the dean of the Court’s liberal bloc. She took instrumental positions in matters of gender equality, LGBTQ rights, immigration, healthcare, and separation of church and state.
Known for her wit, her humility, and her brilliance, Ginsburg lived long enough to see herself become an icon, both in the legal world and in pop culture. Dubbed “the Notorious R.B.G.,” the justice represented a beacon of leadership and legacy to a young generation of American liberals and feminists, inspiring RBG action figures, adult coloring books, and a vivacious characterization on Saturday Night Live. And in 2018, actress Felicity Jones received critical praise for her portrayal of a young Ginsburg in the film On the Basis of Sex, which explored the challenges of Ginsburg’s early career as a working mother and a groundbreaking lawyer.
Words of Remembrance
Ginsburg’s passing triggered an outpouring of grief and kind words from across the political spectrum. The Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, John Roberts, wrote that “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush released similar sentiments: “She dedicated many of her 87 remarkable years to the pursuit of justice and equality, and she inspired more than one generation of women and girls. Justice Ginsburg loved our country and the law. Laura and I are fortunate to have known this smart and humorous trailblazer.”
Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, herself a trailblazer for women in American leadership, acknowledged that “Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me. There will never be another like her. Thank you RBG.”
And even President Donald Trump, who was never exactly simpatico with Ginsburg, displayed sincerity upon learning of her passing. “She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agreed with her or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I’m actually saddened to hear that [she’s died].”