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Who was Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Her journey at the Supreme Court

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18th of pancreatic cancer. She served the Supreme Court since 1993 and was known for fighting prominent cases, especially for the rights of women and gender equality.

Her journey for women’s rights

During her time at Harvard law school, she was one of the only women. At a time when women weren’t allowed to go to the university library, Ginsburg had an idea of an equal world, where genders are treated equally and the justice is served. In 1972 she founded the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU) actively took part in Women's Rights Project, and fought more than 300 cases of gender discrimination. In 1993 she joined the Supreme Court and won multiple cases, some of which became an example for an equal society. RBG, as referred to in pop-culture, stood for what was right, and not for a particular gender. Her entire life she worked so that both gender have an equal status.

United States v. Virginia 1996

In 1996, RBG had the majority opinion on a case that dealt with a policy from the Virginia Military Institute that banned women from being admitted to the institution. She wrote:

“Neither federal nor state government acts compatibly with equal protection when a law or official policy denies to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature-equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities”

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 2016

She helped remove the HB2 law in Texas which made it difficult for women to get an abortion, her idea was to discourage women from getting abortions as majority of the times they are forced to do so. “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, at great risk to their health and safety.”

A powerful Justice at Supreme Court

Ginsburg served as an example for equality and human rights in general. She was always concerned about the hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community and had some strong views against people who had racial biases. Her way to judge was very methodical and succeeded to be in the majority opinion several times even when the Supreme Court was mostly composed by conservative white men.

Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015

This case is one of the major decisions made for the LGBTQ+ community. A number of couples sued their state for prohibiting same sex marriage. RBG contributed to legalize same sex marriage in the fifty states of the U.S. She said during an oral discussion at Court, “Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition.”

Sessions v. Dimaya, 2018

Discrimination is a big issue in the United States and this case tried to reduce it. Indeed, in the Immigration and Nationality Act, there is a condition that implies that anyone convicted of an “aggravated felony including a crime of violence” in the US should be deported. The Court decided that the definition of "aggravated felonies including a crime of violence" was unconstitutionally vague so they deleted this clause. Yet, none has been replaced to define the term and ICE deportation continues to deport people for these unclear reasons. During this case, RBG had the majority opinion and assigned a Justice to write down the decision.

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