FOR THE WEEK OF SEP. 21, 2020
'Notorious R.B.G.:' Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves an inspiring legacy
Pick a quote from Justice Ginsburg and describe what it means to you.
Share a tribute from someone in your city or state.
Now find coverage of another woman in any job or profession. What does she do?
"Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature," Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court said about colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died late last week from cancer at age 87. She was the second woman on the top court and a pioneering advocate for women's rights. She also gained iconic status among young Americans as "Notorious R.B.G.," a play on the name of rapper Notorious B.I.G. (Both were born in Brooklyn, N.Y.) She proudly embraced the nickname, which appeared on memes, hoodies, shirts, posters and other merchandise. Ginsburg, a justice for 27 years, was nominated in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and confirmed seven weeks later in a 96-3 Senate vote.
President Trump says he'll nominate a successor soon, even though voters decide in less than two months whether he'll have a second term. The vacancy on the nine-seat top court gives him a chance to create a solidly conservative majority there, perhaps for decades. "President Trump is in a position to reshape the Supreme Court long past his time in office with a third justice, giving conservatives a 6-to-3 majority," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote hours after Ginsburg died. (Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were nominated by Trump in 2017 and 2018.)
The process of confirming a nominee instantly became a campaign issue. "Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," says Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the chamber's Democratic leader, echoes that: "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president." And in a statement dictated to her granddaughter this month, Ginsburg said: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
The influential justice was born in 1933, a time when laws and the customs they protected treated women differently than men. She grew up to challenge laws that barred women from jobs and denied them rights, eventually setting the country on a path to extend equal justice to women and LGBTQ Americans. She was a widely admired role model for generations of female lawyers. This quote from her shows why she's revered as a feminist icon: "When I'm sometimes asked 'When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]?' and I say 'When there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that."
Chief justice says: "Future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice." – John Roberts
Senate Republican leader says: "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." – Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
Hillary Clinton says: "Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me. There will never be another like her. Thank you RBG." – Former senator (2001-09), secretary of state (2009-13) and presidential candidate (2016)
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