Or, the Notorious RBG as she is so appropriately sometimes called.
If you have yet to meet this wonderful woman, allow this post to act as a little potted biography; Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits as a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States (pleasingly abridged to SCOTUS, though I seem incapable of pronouncing that without a superfluous R). This is the highest court in America, comprised of nine Justices who each need to be appointed by the President. The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice reflects the political leanings of the President and carries implications long after they have left office – a President can serve for a maximum of two terms, each lasting four years, so eight years in total – a Supreme Court Justice serves for life or until retirement or removal (which is rare). There are nine spaces and you only get to appoint a Justice when a space is vacated. The Supreme Court exists to interpret the Constitution and can overturn any bill passed by Congress if it deems it to be unconstitutional. It is the last chance saloon and is supposed to be non-partisan.
Every morning when you wake up, I want you to say a little prayer for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her continuing excellent health. She is a good thing.
RBG was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993 – one of the two liberal leaning Justices he appointed during his Presidency – and was only the second ever woman to sit on the Supreme Court. She has since been joined by the third and fourth women to be appointed Justices – both were appointed by President Barack Obama – and I think it is safe to say that you probably will not see any women appointed under the current President should a seat become vacant.
RBG does not come from a background of privilege, born and raised in Brooklyn NY by immigrant parents who encouraged her love of reading. She graduated from Cornell university in 1954 with a degree in government and a fiance.
Ruth Bader married Martin Ginsberg when they were both so very young and I often get emotional to think of how wonderful he was – any woman with a partner who supports them in their ambitions and challenges them to achieve more than they could ever have believed possible will know why I well up to think of Martin Ginsberg. He did all of the above and more IN THE 1950s!
She was demoted from her first job when she got pregnant and gave birth to their daughter.
One year later, RBG took one of the nine places offered to women to study at Harvard Law School. There was only enough space for nine women in the class of five-hundred men. These women were asked to publicly explain why they were studying at Harvard and taking up a place that could be occupied by a man, such was the attitude of the Dean at a dinner hosted in his home.
This is the thing to remember about a remarkable woman in the 1950s; she was not expected to be nor required to be remarkable, she could just as easily sit at home and do very little but breed, and cook and clean (if one is not so fortunate as to have help), and the world would have thanked her for it. Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew that she had other things that she wanted to do and thank goodness she had the support network to push herself.
None of this was to the detriment of her home or family. Ruth nursed Martin through cancer treatment whilst studying AND collecting his college assignments AND looking after their baby. She credits the perspective created by her homelife with getting her through her studies. Really, she knew what was important and what wasn’t. She got her head down and made the Harvard Law Review. It was around this time that she began to survive on very little sleep, working late into each night.
According to her family, she still does this. She works until silly-o’clock each morning during the week and catches up by sleeping all weekend!
When Martin recovered and took a job in New York, Ruth transferred to Columbia and finished her studies there finishing top of her class.
You would think that New York law firms would be fighting over this smart young individual… no, Ruth was flatly told to go away. She was even told by one firm that they had already hired a woman last year, why did she think that they would need another one? Ruth went into academia, working as a research assistant and then a teacher at Columbia. She became their first female tenured professor in 1972.
OK, I’m getting more in depth than I had intended here. The problem is that EVERYTHING I read about Ruth Bader Ginsburg is so damn inspirational that I am having trouble editing stuff out. Let’s pause here for a recommendation… I picked up loads of this information from thoroughly enjoying every moment of the documentary RBG (Betsy West/Julie Coen, 2018) which is available on Netflix. Take a break from my rambling and watch the trailer.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has dedicated her career to ending discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’. Working predominantly to have the laws of the land treat women as they would treat men; equal pay, ownership of our own bodies, the right to work, earn, save, get into debt, buy cars, breed, not breed, fight, and live as we choose.
She is a good thing, a very good thing. She has worked tirelessly to show that women are equal to men, to prove that they should be to a dismissive system run by men who saw no gender inequality from where they sat, and to set laws in place to protect women’s rights. Her voice on the Supreme Court is the voice of dissent when hard fought rights are being challenged or rolled back. Put simply, she will take no shit off any off any Congressman, Senator, or President.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now 86 and shows no signs of slowing down. Sure, she has battled cancer a couple of times and kicked its ass. Whenever she gets knocked down, she gets straight back up again – literally, she had a fall in her office at the Supreme Court and broke some ribs and was back in the office the following day. She works out daily with a trainer. Since her beloved Martin passed away in 2010, she has carried on and on and continues to be a very good thing in a world that is full of bad things.
I apologise for banging on…
She is wonderful. She is everything that I wish I could be for future generations. I’d just love to bake her a cake.