Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87 on September 18th, 2020. She was a staunch advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, and women’s rights. Dedicating her life to the practice of law and the defense of democracy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a force to be reckoned with according to allies and opponents alike.
Since 1993, America has benefitted from the arguments and ideas that Justice Ginsburg set forth on the bench, setting legal precedents for women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color. Over the years, RBG became almost synonymous with the Old Testament words she lived by: “Justice, justice, thou shalt pursue.” She advocated for women’s rights issues such as Roe v. Wade, and was head of ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, never once backing down even if she was heavily opposed.
“Ruth Bader Ginsberg was able to communicate respectfully and appropriately with everyone, so much so that she could bring about consensus among those on the opposing political side, as well. Of all times in history, it seems to me that it’s more important now than ever before for us to learn from RBG in that regard,” regarded Dr. Amy Button, professor of psychology and communications at Alfred University, “There is so much hatred spewed among people regarding political beliefs today and if we could all learn to listen, learn from one another and advocate for our stances without attacking others’ personalities or beings, I think this country may be in a better place."
Justice Ginsburg’s passing has created a level of “leaderfulness” amongst the people to keep pushing for the concepts that she would have brought to the bench. Through her legacy, marginalized Americans have had opportunities given to them that allow them to rise to higher societal levels than previous generations and are not willing to have their rights negotiated now that RBG has passed.
“[H]er death laid bare some weaknesses of our current judicial and political systems. I think people’s anger, grief, fear, and resolve are strong right now, and I worry that the political fight will spill over into violence. But I hope that those strong feelings will spur folks to get involved in the work RBG championed her whole career, by exercising their right to vote, running for office, getting educated to be a good lawyer, judge, or political representative, and standing up for equity,” Dr. Beth Johnson, a psychology professor at Alfred University. “Right now, we have immense apathy, cynicism, and disengagement in the political aspect of citizenship, but everybody always has the time and energy to complain when things aren’t how they’d prefer. I hope that a post-RBG America gets motivated to do the hard work of protecting our democracy and begin creating a country where people are truly free."
With an election year right around the corner a lot of activists and advocates are wondering what it is they can do to preserve the legacy of “The Notorious RBG.” If her progress were compromised following the appointment of her replacement or as the years go on, it could conceivably set back America’s civil liberties several years. In following the wishes of Justice Ginsburg, the best and only way that real change can be made or sustained is to vote and advocate. In the words of the woman herself, “Dissent.”
“We need to continue RBG’s work in whatever way that we can; whether that’s through activism, protest, or through the steadfast ways that we try to quietly improve systems from within,” said Dr. Michele Lowry, a professor of criminal justice and psychology at Alfred University. “Each of us has our own skill set that we can use to make our communities and society more fair and more equitable for everyone, especially for those who are underserved and underrepresented. There is still so much work that needs to be done, and each of us can do our part in our own way. That would be truly honoring RBG’s memory and legacy.”
By Sam Sage