photo: Lindsey Dedario/Reuters
By Nic Gelyon
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most senior liberal justice on the United States Supreme Court, died Friday night of complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg was a cancer survivor. She was treated in 1999 for colorectal cancer, and in 2009 for stage I pancreatic cancer. In 2018, she underwent surgery to remove part of her left lung.
She continued to work, however, through her numerous bouts with the disease. Democrats had been calling for her retirement during the Barack Obama administration, so that the president could appoint a younger liberal justice.
But Ginsburg stood firm.
She did not miss a day of argument in more than 27 years serving on the nation’s highest court, having been confirmed by the Senate on August 3, 1993.
Ginsburg graduated from Cornell University in 1954. She went on to study at both Harvard and Columbia, the latter of which she finished tied for first in her class.
Throughout this time, the former Ms. Bader had gotten married to Martin Ginsburg, and had a daughter, Jane, born in July 1955.
She was caring for Martin, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer around the same time. But she never shrank in the face of adversity; she graduated from Harvard Law School and finished tied for first in her class at Columbia Law School.
She served on both schools’ law reviews.
Ginsburg not only had the wherewithal to work in law, but the work ethic, as well. But she still found it difficult to attain work in the field.
After her son, James, was born in 1965, Ginsburg was identified not only as a woman, but as a mother of two. She did, however, eventually settle at Rutgers Law School in 1963 as an assistant professor.
Ginsburg used her growing stature to fight for what she cared about. She, undeniably, was no political football.
She fought for women’s equality with the American Civil Liberties Union, attacking issues such as special benefits for men, voluntary jury duty for women, and women needing more Social Security money than men.
She won her cases with an astonishing rate of success: Ginsburg won five of her six cases in front of the Supreme Court.
In 1980, she was appointed to one of the most prestigious circuit courts in the country, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, D.C., where she served for 13 years.
The rest is history.
Today, Ginsburg has become the public face of the U.S. Supreme Court. She’s made headlines for her comments on President Donald Trump and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. She’s used strong language in calling out her colleagues during dissents.
Further publicizing her feisty reputation has been comedian Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of the justice on the sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live.” A video of McKinnon’s impression, neckpiece and all, has upwards of 1.8 million views on YouTube.
The video was an ‘editorial’ from McKinnon’s Ginsburg on those calls for her retirement.
Ginsburg braved her way through twenty-one years of cancer to voice her position on issues such as voting rights, women’s pay, and – in a strongly worded dissenting opinion – the Florida presidential election controversy.
Her fight is one every human should try and emulate. If every person put into their lives what the late Justice Ginsburg put into hers, society would be able to achieve things we’ve never even dreamed of.
We should appreciate what Justice Ginsburg gave to the United States and in return take from her the strength with which she put the country on her back.