In American Heritage, Richard Levick celebrates Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s influence on gender equality and social justice in an era of political divide.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is why I went to law school. Well, that’s not fully accurate. As a formative adolescent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I knew her work as a law professor volunteering for the ACLU and arguing before the Supreme Court. I knew what the ACLU was doing, I knew Thurgood Marshall and Bobby Kennedy, and I knew I wanted to be a lawyer.
Lawyers had the power to make things better. Equal justice under law, the phrase engraved above the front entrance of the United States Supreme Court, says it all.
Ginsburg embodied this phrase. Her rock-star popularity with young people also speaks volumes, particularly for an opera-loving octogenarian. The forcefulness of her personality and the power of her convictions made her the only Supreme Court justice in history with a huge grassroots following. If Justice Harry Blackmun became something of a celebrity in the 1970s for drafting the majority decision in Roe v. Wade, Justice Ginsburg became popular for nearly every utterance.
Think of the outpouring on social media after her death was announced. Young people who might have been hard pressed to define the 14th Amendment knew what she meant to the struggle for gender equality and social justice. And all of us – progressives, “originalists,” and everyone in between – can admire her for her civility…Read more