“A Titan of the Law”: Why Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Being Mourned Across the World


“A Titan of the Law”: Why Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Being Mourned Across the World

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, only the second woman to serve as a Justice on America’s highest court, died on Friday at the age of 87 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Diminutive in stature, but her influence was enormous as a progressive force and a champion for women’s rights on the US Supreme Court.

Crowds paid tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg outside the Supreme Court, while many took to social media to offer their condolences.

American President Donald Trump in a statement said, “our nation mourns the loss of a titan of the law”. He said that Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one could disagree without being disagreeable towards different points of view. Ginsburg had criticised Trump for his “ego” and said she didn’t “even want to contemplate” his impact on the court.

Former President Barack Obama, in a heartfelt statement said, “Justice Ginsburg inspired the generations who followed her, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land.”

He stated that Justice Ginsberg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality, that it doesn’t only harm women, that it has real consequences for all.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and landmark opinions moved us closer to a more perfect union,” said former President Bill Clinton, who had nominated her to the Supreme Court in 1993.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden called her, “an American hero, a giant of legal doctrine, and a relentless voice in the pursuit of the highest American ideal: equal justice under law”.

Kamala Harris, Vice Presidential candidate from the Democratic party offered her condolences through a statement in which she said, “Justice Ginsburg used every ounce of life she was bestowed to urge our nation down a path towards equal justice.”

Chief Justice John Roberts mourned Ginsburg’s passing. “Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice,” Roberts said in a statement.

Ginsburg, the de facto leader of the left-leaning coalition on a court with a conservative majority, fought against the odds all her life. Born into a family of Russian Jewish immigrants at the height of the Great Depression, she lost her mother to cancer when she was a teenager. She met her husband Martin at Cornell University, and when the couple enrolled together in Harvard Law School, she was juggling school and raising their first daughter Jane while her husband battled cancer. A fighter all her life.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not need a seat on the Supreme Court to earn her place in the American history books,” Clinton said at the time of her appointment in 1993. “She has already done that.”

Ginsburg showed the power of dissent, in a court that had shifted to a conservative majority. She authored powerful dissents in cases involving abortion, voting rights, and pay discrimination against women. She even wore what was called a “dissenting collar”, with women purchasing necklace versions of it as a show of support. An architect of the women’s rights movement, she was known for digging deep into case records and for being a stickler for following the rules.

Nina Totenberg writes for NPR: “Ginsburg changed the way the world is for American women. For more than a decade, until her first judicial appointment in 1980, she led the fight in the courts for gender equality. When she began her legal crusade, women were treated, by law, differently from men. Hundreds of state and federal laws restricted what women could do, barring them from jobs, rights and even from jury service. By the time she donned judicial robes, however, Ginsburg had worked a revolution.”

Ginsburg is an unlikely pop culture icon, a tiny woman with a low ponytail and big glasses. Her appeal transcends generations and her relentless fight for equality and justice, inspired millions. The ideals she stood for must never be forgotten.