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US Supreme Court Judge Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies

19 Sep 2020 12:57 AM GMT
US Supreme Court Judge Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies
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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, popularly known as 'RBG', judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, died at the age of 87, reported the New York Times.

She was battling cancer since 1997 and overcame five bouts of the disease, before succumbing to it on the night of September 18(as per US time).

She is known to be a liberal-progressive voice of the Supreme Court and has championed the cause of gender equality and human rights through several notable decisions.

Mourning Ginsburg's passing, Chief Justice John Roberts said, "Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague."

As a lawyer, she co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1972, and was associated with landmark decisions such as Reed vs Reed, Frontiero v. Richardson, Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld etc, which helped in evolving the jurisprudence on gender equality overcoming constructs of gender stereotypes.

"I ask no favor for my sex; all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks." – Ginsburg quoted 19th-century women's rights pioneer, Sarah Grimké, during her submissions in the Supreme Court.

"I did see myself as kind of a kindergarten teacher in those days because the judges didn't think sex discrimination existed." – Ginsburg said when asked about her litigating experience before the Supreme Court.

ACLU mourned her death saying: "Few individuals have had such a dramatic and lasting effect on a particular area of law as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who directed the work of our Women's Rights Project from its founding in 1972 until her appointment to the federal bench in 1980. During the 70s, RBG led our organization in a host of important battles, many before the Supreme Court, that established the foundation for the current legal protections against sex discrimination in this country and helped lay the groundwork for future women's rights advocacy".

Prime Minister of Canada, Justice Trudeau, condoled her death :

Ginsburg was nominated by President Jimmy Carter on April 14, 1980, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In 1993, she was nominated to the US Supreme Court.

She authored the court's opinion in United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996), which struck down the Virginia Military Institute's (VMI) male-only admissions policy as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

She was a dissenting voice in Bush vs Gore (2000), which settled a recount dispute in Florida's 2000 presidential election in favour of the then presidential candidate George W Bush rejecting the claims of his rival Al Gore.

She was part of the majority decision in Safford Unified School District v. Redding, 557 U.S. 364 (2009) which held the strip-search of a 13-year-old girl by narcotics-control officers as an invasion on right to privacy.

She was also part of the majority in the landmark decision of 2015 which granted legal recognition to same-sex marriages.

On and off court, Ginsburg has advocated for women's equality and participation in every sphere of American life.

"When I'm sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, 'When there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that.", she once said, quite provocatively

Her consistent and strong views on liberal and progressive values have made her quite popular, particularly among the young generation. Her fierce dissents in many cases earned her a rock star type status among students, who dubbed her the "Notorious R.B.G"(in comparison with the American rapper 'The Notorious B.I.G').

Filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen created a documentary about Ginsburg, titled RBG(review published by LiveLaw about that may be read here).

A book written about the life of the judge in 2015 by Shana Knizhni and Irin Carmon, titled the Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, went on to become a bestseller.

Ginsburg was named one of Forbes's 100 Most Powerful Women (2009), one of Glamour magazine's Women of the Year 2012 and one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people (2015).

In 2016, she had courted controversy by making her criticism of the then Presidential candidate Donald Trump public. She joked that she might consider moving to New Zealand, if Trump becomes the President. Later, she expressed regret for her comments against Trump, calling them "ill-advised".

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, she graduated from Columbia Law University in 1959. Though she topped the University, she could not find a law firm willing to hire her, as, in her own words, she had 'three strikes against her' - for being Jewish, female and a mother.

Her husband, Martin Ginsburg, a tax attorney, died in 2010. She is survived by two children, Jane and James, and several grandchildren.


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