Why we're crushing hard on Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ah, The Notorious R.B.G. There’s really nothing negative we can even begin to think of to say about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has served as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court for the past 23 years. During her tenure, Bader Ginsburg has become famous for her stance on women’s rights – particularly, her opinions on the say women should have over their own bodies (read: all of it), as well as on gender equality in the workplace and elsewhere.
Here are just a few of the reasons she’s the subject of #WCW this week, and why we’re so grateful to have her in such a powerful position within our judicial system.
She is tough as nails and basically the hardest worker ever
As the oldest justice on the Supreme Court (she’ll be 83 next week), Bader Ginsburg has seen a lot in her lifetime. She married Martin Ginsburg, a former tax attorney who passed away from cancer in 2010, in 1954, and had their first child, Jane, a year later. Right after Jane (who’s now a professor at Columbia Law School) was born, Martin learned he had cancer. Bader Ginsburg cared for Jane and Martin – all while working on the Harvard Law Review and attending class for both herself and her husband (in a program where she was one of nine women in a class of around 500), taking notes for the latter and even typing up his papers for him. ON A TYPEWRITER, guys.
As far as her own health is concerned, Bader Ginsburg was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. But even through her surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, she never missed a day of her Supreme Court duties. I think we can all agree on one thing: What a badass. And it’s a good thing most of the country seems to agree – in fact, TIME named Bader Ginsburg one of the TIME 100 in 2015, proving once again that their taste is top notch.
Her words about (ALL) women’s reproductive rights are on point
Bader Ginsburg is known for being an extremely patient and somewhat soft-spoken person, but that doesn’t mean her words and opinions don’t resonate with strength and passion. Like when she spoke out against abortion-related “testing” (e.g., requiring women to “think over” the decision of getting an abortion for 24 to 48 hours before going through with it).
“I think the court uses [these types of tests] as a label that accommodates the result it wants to reach. It will be, it should be, that this is a woman’s decision,” Bader Ginsburg told The New York Times in 2009. “It’s entirely appropriate to say it has to be an informed decision, but that doesn’t mean you can keep a woman overnight who has traveled a great distance to get to the clinic, so that she has to go to some motel and think it over for 24 hours or 48 hours. I think the side that wants to take the choice away from women and give it to the state, they’re fighting a losing battle. Time is on the side of change.”
She also recently spoke out about the hypocrisy of putting state-regulated abortion-clinic laws in place, and how these types of laws don’t really do anything for women who aren’t as financially privileged – women who also deserve to have control over their own bodies.
“There’s a sorry situation in the United States, which is essentially that poor women don’t have choice,” she stated at a Duke Law event last summer. “Women of means do. They will, always. So if you can afford a plane ticket, a train ticket or even a bus ticket, you can control your own destiny, but if you’re locked into your native state, then maybe you can’t. That we have one law for women of means and another for poor women is not a satisfactory situation.”
As are her words about the importance of gender equality – and how much they resonate with both men and women
One of the coolest parts of RBG’s opinions on this is that her words are also hitting home with men – men like lawyer Ryan Park, who chronicled his experience as a stay-at-home dad last year in an article for The Atlantic. In the piece, he credits Bader Ginsburg (whom he refers to as “The Boss” for its entirety) with much of how he was able to handle unwelcomed remarks from others about something he wanted to do and felt he should be able to do without gender bias.
To support his point, Park references a statement Bader Ginsburg made about a 1996 case dealing with women wanting to enter Virginia Military Institute, in which many women told her they didn’t understand why any women would even want to enter such a program. Bader Ginsburg responded by saying even though most women probably would not choose that path, “estimates of what is appropriate for most women…no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description.”
She was close friends with Antonin Scalia, even though they disagreed all the time
When notably conservative Justice Antonin Scalia passed away last month, it was no surprise that Bader Ginsburg had sweet words to say about him, considering they were close friends whose families hung out on holidays and even vacationed together – in fact, their relationship inspired a well-received opera, fittingly titled Scalia/Ginsburg.
“From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation,” Bader Ginsburg said in a statement released shortly after Scalia’s death. “The press referred to his ‘energetic fervor,’ ‘astringent intellect,’ ‘peppery prose,’ ‘acumen,’ and ‘affability,’ all apt descriptions… It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.”
Scalia and Bader Ginsburg’s political views could not have been more different, which is such a testament to the person Bader Ginsburg is. I can’t imagine even corresponding with someone whose views are so far on the opposite end of the spectrum from me, let alone being close friends with them, so kudos to her for being able to separate work and play so effectively.
She has her own coloring book
People love RBG so much that there is a bevy of merchandise featuring her likeness out there – perhaps most notably, a new downloadable coloring book. There have also been tattoos, pins, mugs, etc. – you name it, there’s an item out there that allows you to profess your love for Bader Ginsburg in pretty much any way. I even Googled “Ruth Bader Ginsburg cross stitch” on a whim, and what do you know? Etsy to the rescue. When you’re not only a Supreme Court Justice, but one with your face on a piece of cross-stitch art (and when Natalie Freaking Portman is slated to play you in a biopic about your life), I think it’s safe to say you’ve made it.