Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remained an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States until her passing on September 18 at the age of 87. Her work advocating for gender equality and women’s rights is an everlasting legacy. Ginsburg’s achievements should motivate everyone to vote today in the general election, and we should all continue to advocate for gender equality.
Ginsburg’s legacy is vital to understand as she was one of the leading advocates for women in government. Her journey through law school led her to be one of nine women to graduate from Harvard out of 500 students, which helped further exemplify her achievements during a time where law was a male-dominated practice. Her driven attitude for equality has influenced many within the American government, including several presidents. Although her ideas at the time were deemed radical, today they have helped shape the fundamental rights of women across America. Below is a list dedicated to several important achievements Ruth Bader Ginsburg achieved in her lifetime.
Supreme Court appearances
Ginsburg appeared six times before the Supreme Court arguing on important cases such as Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld (1975), which dealt with gender discrimination in child support, and Duren v. Missouri (1978), where she argued that women were devalued in the court’s jury because it was not mandatory they participated.
The pathway to the high court
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She was one of 40 women to be appointed as judges during Carter’s presidency. President Carter’s female judicial appointments were intentional; he believed in the equality and awareness of both women and minorities. This path eventually led Ginsburg to be appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. She was the second woman to fill a Supreme Court seat and the first Jewish woman at that time.
Important Supreme Court rulings
During her time on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg held majority opinion on several important civil and women’s rights cases. In Sternberg v. Carhart (2000), Nebraska could not criminalize doctors on “partial abortion” because it would place a burden on women’s rights to have an abortion even with the exception of women’s health risk.
Also, Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) proved the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples and could not be discriminated against in different states. This decision was a pivotal role for the LGBTQIA+ community since it legalized same-sex marriages across America.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
In Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (2006), the Supreme Court sided with Goodyear Tire against the petitioner, Lilly Ledbetter, who accused the company of paying her less than her male counterparts. Ginsburg went as far as to read her dissent on the bench in a way that the public could understand the gender wage gap.
Later in 2009, Ginsburg continued to fight against gender discrimination. With her influence, Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, enabling the ability to file for an equal pay lawsuit which now resets with each paycheck. This was the first bill signed by President Barack Obama.
Ginsburg quickly became a feminist icon and will forever be one. Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik’s book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, pays tribute to her progressive ideology. Ginsburg’s ability to reconstruct American society based on equality of gender and sexuality is an inspiration to many women both in the courtroom and out of it. She empowered generations of females to speak up and fight, which prioritized the importance of voting.
The impact of women’s voices and votes in America will strongly sway the tide to bring further equality to all. The power of voting can put women in the places that have been male-dominated for most of history, paving the way for more influential women to fulfill the dream Ginsburg saw. In order to continue the fight that Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for, we must use our voices and vote during this year’s presidential election.
Illustration by Yegide Matthews; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg photographed by Camilo Schaser-Hughes