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5 Things That Made Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Awesome

5 Things That Made Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Awesome

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the most celebrated icons in the US Supreme Court. She was perhaps one of the OGs who knew how to say ‘NO,’ as she became a pop culture icon for her dissenting opinions and rulings on socially divisive laws. Justice Ginsburg was soft-spoken yet a significant force to contend with in transforming social convention laws. She was a fighter for equality and women’s rights.

We have lost yet another inspirational icon in 2020 – but here are five things that Justice Ginsburg did that will always keep her awesome and close to our hearts.

1. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Women’s Rights Project

The ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project was founded in 1972 by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Through litigation, community outreach, advocacy, and public education, WRP still does tremendous work to empower poor women, women of color, and immigrant women who have been subject to gender bias and who face pervasive barriers to equality. WRP works to ensure that women and their families can enjoy the benefits of full equality and participation in every sphere of society.

2. Crusader for the Rights of People with Disabilities

The Supreme Court’s ruling in this historic case marked a big win for the rights of people with disabilities. Ginsburg stated that under the Americans for Disabilities Act, people must be placed in community settings rather than in institutions based on the advice of health professionals.

“States are required to place persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions when the State’s treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities,” Ginsburg had written in her judgment.

3. Women in US Military owe it to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In 1996, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion for the landmark United States v. Virginia case, which ended the Virginia Military Institute’s archaic men-only admission policy. The 7-1 ruling stated that the institute’s admission policy stood in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. In her opinion, Ginsburg wrote, “Generalizations about ‘the way women are,’ estimates of what is appropriate for most women, no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description.”

4. Dealt the Game for Equal Pay

In the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber company case, Ginsburg delivered a scalding dissent in support of equal wage and called on Congress to take action, which ultimately led to the passing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009. She had said, “In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.” “The ball is in Congress’ court…to correct this Court’s parsimonious reading of Title VII.”

Lilly Ledbetter sued her employer, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, in 1999 after she discovered that she was paid less than her male counterparts during her 19-year career in the company. She won the case in a federal court in 2003 and was awarded $3.8 million in back pay and damages.

5. Stepping up for Same-Sex Marriages

In 2015, Ginsburg joined the 5-4 majority in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, overturning a ban on same-sex marriages across all 50 states in the US.

“We have changed our idea about marriage. Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition,” she had said during the oral arguments. “Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female that ended as a result of this court’s decision in 1982 when Louisiana’s Head and Master Rule was struck down. Would that be a choice that states should [still] be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?”

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I met Justice Ginsburg, or "Ruth" as I grew to call her, last year while filming Taste the Nation. She was so kind, curious and lovely. I wrote this of our meeting at the time: "There are meals in your life you will never forget. Meals you will tell your grandkids about. Last night was one of them. I had dinner with someone I’ve admired for a long long time. And she did not disappoint. Witty and whip smart, she had a twinkle in her eye the whole night. We sipped champagne, savored our gazpacho and crab and talked of India in the 80’s and so much more." Weeks after Ruth invited me and Littlehands to meet her in her chambers at the Supreme Court where she patiently explained the many cases she had to Littlehands. She sent us books in the mail, beautifully wrapped with handwritten notes. I went back to visit her at court when the ACLU had a case on immigration there. I cannot tell you what a loss this is for me personally, for women everywhere and for our country. She started the women’s rights project at the ACLU many years ago and my work and the work of so many would not be possible if she hadn’t paved the way for us. She was someone I have admired so much for so many years, someone I looked up to. With so much going on in her life, she took the time to befriend me and Littlehands and I will never forget her. A tall tree has fallen in our forest… #RIPRBG #RIPRuth

A post shared by Padma Lakshmi (@padmalakshmi) on

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers. Young women especially seemed to embrace the court’s Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defense of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength and resilience she displayed in the face of personal loss and health crises.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke for the people and was the voice of the voiceless. By her courage and conviction, she fought the adversities of life and law with equal passion.  She became us.

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