Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
An icon. A superhero. A visionary. The “Notorious RBG” as she came to be known needs no grand introduction. Her career as a staunch advocate for women’s rights and gender equality was generation changing.
And then she served on the Supreme Court for 27 years.
As the second woman nominated to the highest court in the United States, she was an American patriot. We honor her tireless effort to further equality and shaping the law to better represent all people, regardless of sex. For example, in a 2009 case, Safford Unified School District v. Redding, Justice Ginsburg remained the only female justice on the court after Justice Sandra Day O'Connor’s retirement. The case was in regards to a young girl, who was strip-searched at her school. The court ultimately ruled that the search was unconstitutional based on the girl’s Fourth Amendment right, but also that school officials were entitled to qualified immunity. This, as the school officials had argued, meant that the school could not be held financially responsible.
Justice Ginsburg concurred with the 8-1 majority, but wrote a separate opinion disputing the reasoning of the opinion. Recognizing her unique position as the only woman on the court, she clarified in a USA Today interview saying, “They have never been a 13-year-old girl,” Ginsburg said. “It’s a very sensitive age for a girl. I don’t think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood.”
RBG recognized that different backgrounds on the court meant that different groups' rights will be understood and upheld. If we continue to exclude a variety of opinions on the court, in lawmaking, in business, in our society then we fail to appreciate all people equitably in the structures of our society. These institutions are meant to protect the rights of ordinary citizens and respect their diversity, for the benefit of everyone.
Justice Ginsburg very clearly understood that gender stereotypes limit choices of everyone, not just women and that our rights, responsibilities, and opportunities should not depend on our sex. She rejected the idea that a person is more passive or aggressive because of their sex and attacked the laws, policies and structures that were designed to keep people in those predetermined roles.
It is with this in mind that we honor this feminist icon with “The 30 Days of tRuth”. We will tweet out her thoughts on women in leadership positions, society, and working for justice and equality.
“Indeed, in my lifetime, I expect to see three, four, perhaps even more women on the High Court bench. Women not shaped from the same mold, but of different complexions.”