Honoring the Notorious R.B.G.


Photographs courtesy of Sebastian Kim from TIME

On September 18 of this year, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) passed away. According to NPR, she succumbed to metastatic pancreatic cancer in the company of her loved ones at the age of 87. Although her death was devastating, Justice Ginsburg’s life was inspiring, honorable and extraordinary.

            RBG attended Cornell University at the age of 17 and later graduated at the top of her class from Harvard Law School, all while raising a young child and taking care of her husband who was battling cancer. Due to her gender and in spite of her academic prowess, she was rejected by colleagues and employers. Once Justice Ginsburg was able to begin her legal work as a law school teacher, she illuminated numerous unconstitutional, discriminatory laws at the federal level so they could be rescinded.

            Ginsburg then became the second woman in the history of the United States to be nominated to the Supreme Court, under President Clinton. She fought for targets of work discrimination, LGBT marriage, women’s healthcare, immigration reform, abortion, equal pay and more. In a statement about her death on Medium, former U.S. president Barack Obama reflected wistfully on her legacy:

“Over a long career on both sides of the bench – as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist – Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality…that it doesn’t only harm women…that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are, and who we can be. Justice Ginsburg inspired the generations who followed her, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land…Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her.”

            The powerful feminist justice did not let the stress of two kids, colon cancer, lung cancer, liver problems, the death of her husband or two bouts of pancreatic cancer stop her from making a formidable difference in court. She also stayed athletic beyond expectation, as she had been horseback riding and utilizing a physical trainer well into old age. Her playful humor and wit charmed her fans. Her contributions will not be forgotten.

            “Do something outside yourself. Something to repair tears in your community. Something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you,” Justice Ginsburg smiled during her Rathbun Lecture at Stanford Memorial Church. “To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you, that’s what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself, but for one’s community.”