By Elle Baker
October 13, 2020
On the 18th of September, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away from complications with pancreatic cancer after giving nearly 30 years of her life to serving the United States Supreme Court as one of the most respected and honored associate justices in history.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, sometimes referred to as “RBG”, was an inspiration to the nation for her advocacy for gender equality and equal rights. She has made history, even after her death, being the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. capitol, according to NowThisNews.
RBG’s death was met with much controversy and upheaval because once a justice on the Supreme Court resigns or passes away, a new seat must be filled via a nomination from the president and a vote to pass in the Senate. The controversy being whether or not President Trump should be allowed to nominate a new justice just a few weeks before the 2020 Presidential Election.
The final wish of RBG was to have the next president fill her vacant seat, so when our current president announced he would nominate one prior, many people have voiced their opinions against his statement. When President Trump went to pay his respects at RBG’s casket, people greeted him with boos and shouts of “Honor her wish!” and “Vote him out!” according to NowThisNews.
More than 100 of the late justice’s former law clerks stood guard at the Supreme Court, and some served as honorary casket carriers, accompanying her flag-draped casket inside the building.
Ginsburg was an incredible role model for young women across the country for her advocacy for women’s rights and equality during her life and time on the Court. Her legacy includes votes supporting the legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage and fought against various sex discrimination laws.
Knowing that the nine men on the Supreme Court would be unsympathetic towards the discriminations felt by women, RBG turned the argument on its head and rationalized the discriminations the men felt from these laws. It turned out to be a rather successful strategy and argument because not only was supported, it was also undeniably true.
The gender discriminations that were seen as more “medieval” for their cookie-cutter style households, such as the roles that steered women towards caretaking and the men towards work, were strongly advocated against by RBG. For example, Ginsburg successfully advocated in court for, among others, a father who was denied Social Security survivors benefits after the death of his wife, because the law dictated that widows were eligible but widowers were not; a woman in the Air Force whose husband was denied a spousal allowance that military wives were automatically entitled to, according to The Atlantic. These laws did not account for the people in those circumstances, and because of RBG, they now do.
Ginsburg’s approach to her litigation work increasingly helped women carve their path in the world. Before the mid-1970s, women were often denied access to their own credit cards, “on the presumption that their husband controlled the family’s financial assets,” according to the Atlantic. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 banned such discrimination, which was extended to mortgages as well.
Because of RBG’s work in the legal field, the way households and household roles are shaped today has been significantly changed. She is not necessarily responsible for every woman who decided to go and get a job, however, she is responsible for the increased availability of job opportunities and the benefits those jobs entail.
The legacy of RBG is expansive and complex, but to sum it up, she has carved a pathway for women to have more opportunities in the workforce, for men to be able to be a stay-at-home dad, for being able to love who you love, and to not be discriminated for such decisions. The United States would not be the way it is today without her help.