Mourning Justice

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a tiny woman who made a giant impact. 

This tweet struck me: “I’m noticing how differently RBG’s death is hitting men and women. Men seem to be looking at it analytically. Women it hits at a deeper personal level and there is a sense of grieving beyond, I think, what is being taken into account in reporting etc. right now.”

Well, I’m guilty. My post earlier this week (“A Supreme September Surprise”) focused on the politics of replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s. 

We should pause and reflect on how she changed America. Thanks to her:

  • Women can take out a credit card without a male signatory
  • Women can’t be fired for being pregnant
  • Women can earn admittance into military academies
  • Women are legally protected from any form of violence
  • Women are allowed to live with their significant other without being married
  • Women can ask for divorce due to domestic violence
  • Women can open their own bank accounts without male permission
  • Women can adopt a baby as a single mother
  • Women are allowed to sue companies for pay discrimination.

Heather Cox Richardson, whose daily Letters From an American are a must-read, wrote:

“Ginsburg’s death has brought widespread mourning among those who saw her as a champion for equal rights for women, LGBTQ Americans, minorities, and those who believe the role of the government is to make sure that all Americans enjoy equal justice under law.”

Even before she was on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg had transformed the law on gender discrimination, Richardson noted: 

“Between 1973 and 1976, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court. She won five. The first time she appeared before the court, she quoted nineteenth-century abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sarah Grimke: ‘I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks’.”

When President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg for the Court in 1993, he called her “the Thurgood Marshall of gender-equality law.” 

She served on the Court for 27 years. Whether in the majority or in dissent, she fought for full protection under the law and full participation in life for all Americans.

One way to look at our history is as a series of struggles by people who were left out and locked out – by custom, by law and even by the Supreme Court – to achieve fairness and equality.

Justice Ginsburg dedicated her life in the law to knocking down walls of discrimination and opening doors of opportunity. That is why women mourn her passing. And men should too.

That is why women mourn her passing. And men should too.

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