Tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Photo courtesy of Ken Bennett

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently died at 87 years old. She was an advocate for gender equality and significantly impacted society today.

Alyssa Morrone, Staff Writer

Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recently passed on September 18th, 2020, at 87 years old. An advocate for civil rights and gender equality, Ginsburg used her voice in lawmaking to change lives.

Born on March 15th in 1933, Ginsburg was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating high school, Ginsburg went to Cornell, where she was the top of her class and later met her husband.

Soon after her graduation, Ginsburg enrolled in Harvard for her law degree but had to finish her last year at Columbia due to relocation for her husband’s illness and to care for her newborn child. Ginsburg was one of twelve women graduating from Columbia Law School, with over nine hundred students in the program.

Even after graduating with high marks and recommendations from professors, Ginsburg faced hardships getting hired due to the prominent sexism in the workforce. “Employers were upfront that they did not want a woman,” says Ginsburg in an interview with Glamour, “…even if they would risk taking a chance on a woman, they surely would not take a chance on a woman with a four-year-old child.”

Ginsburg persisted through, and managed to get jobs as a clerk, and become a professor of law at Columbia. In 1960, President Jimmy Carter offered her a position as a judge on the US Court of Appeals District of Columbia, where she stayed for the next thirteen years.

In 1993, Ginsburg was appointed into the Supreme Court under former President Bill Clinton. Ginsburg was paid less than her male counterparts and was considered to just be a unity builder, but she made her place in the Court and served as a crucial role in the final rulings of many cases.

Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time”

— Ginsburg

One of Ginsburg’s earlier and more well-known cases is United States v. Virginia. The United States filed a lawsuit against the last all-male public college, the Virginia Military Institute. The university argued that their particular training was not fit for a woman because it was too strenuous. In the end, the school’s policy was declared unconstitutional because it broke the 14th amendment equal protection clause. Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion on this case.

There are currently no public all-male or all-female colleges in the United States. Our US school system is changed because of her vote. We now have equal opportunity for all genders in education.

Another significant case in Ginsburg’s career was the Sessions v. Diyama case in 2018, which removed the legislation which states that any immigrant who commits a “crime of violence” will be subject to deportation. James Garcia Diyama, a Filipino immigrant, was convicted of first-degree burglary and was subject to deportation.

Diyama appealed to the court and, after much debate, the legislation was considered “unconstitutionally vague” under the Process Clause of the Firth Amendment. This case was a big win in Ginsburg’s career, as in the end, the vote was 5-4 in favor of Diyama.

The decision of the court on this case has had major implications on crime regulations regarding immigrants. Now, the punishment of an immigrant is almost equal to someone who is a born citizen.

Outside of her work life, Ginsburg stayed healthy, seeing a personal fitness trainer for most of her later years. She also dedicated time to raising her two children, James and Jane.

Ginsburg made large stands in her career and became a prominent role of our government and a notable figure for feminism and equality. Ginsburg quotably said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” She has made many changes that influence us, from immigration rights, to our education system, to advances in gender equality.