by Christian Knuth
Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not fulfil the hope that the seriously ill judge at the Supreme Court would hold out until the majority of the Trump Party was broken. Yesterday, the 87-year-old fighter for equal rights died.
Ginsburg fought her way through her studies (graduating from “Columbia Law School” as best in her class) and then through the US justice sector, which until then had been an almost exclusively male-domain. In retrospect, she explained her own disadvantage by saying that she had been conspicuous in three respects for that time: as a Jewess, as a woman and as a mother. It was only with the help of her professor, Gerald Gunther, that she finally managed to find a job with a federal judge after countless applications. In 1963, she became the first female lecturer at Rutgers Law School – admittedly with a lower salary than her male colleagues, as she had a man who was responsible for the family income.
Work influenced by own experience of discrimination
From the 1970s onwards, Ginsburg became one of the most important legal voices for women’s equality, playing a major role in the launch of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Women’s Rights project, of which she remained an advocate until 1980 – a role in which she represented groundbreaking cases before the Supreme Court, of which she herself was to be a member from 1993.
LGBTIQ*, abortion, death penalty and Obamacare
During her time at the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a member of the liberal wing and supported majority opinion on abortion rights, the decision to open marriage to same-sex couples and on universal health insurance (Obamacare). However, the cases in which Ginsburg represented the minority opinion were particularly notorious. She formulated their views in factual but legally devastatingly clear language, for example in the 2008 death penalty verdict. This was the context in which the famous saying was born:
“You can’t spell the truth without Ruth”
In the past ten years, Ginsburg has almost attained pop star status. Following the rapper’s Notorious B.I.G. name she was often called Notorious RBG, which became a staying power especially in the last two years: In 2018 it became known that Ginsburg suffered from pancreatic cancer. She barely escaped death and continued her work at the Supreme Court despite chemotherapy. This was also because the liberal wing of the court was already underrepresented due to the appointment of conservative judges by US President Donald Trump.
Progressive Washington was feverish with her and her fight for survival. In the COVID-19 crisis, a poster caused a stir, which read
“RBG works less than 5 miles from here. If you don’t wear a mask to protect your friends and family, do it to protect RBG”.
Unfortunately, it didn’t help. After it was announced in July that the cancer had returned, America’s voice of equality died on September 18, 2020.
On the night of her death, US President Donald Trump announced that he would replace her with another arch-conservative judge before the election in November.
- 463px-RB_Ginsburg_1977_©Lynn_Gilbert: By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0 / wikimedia.org
- 1080px-Listen_up!!_All_Them_Fives,_Notorious_RBG_sign_at_SCOTUS_this_morning_(25416505006): By Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States - Listen up!! All Them Fives, Notorious RBG sign at SCOTUS this morning, CC BY-SA 2.0 / wikimedia.org
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