Supreme court justice dies; Students reflect on RBG’s impact


Emily Iampieri, Copy Editor

     On Sept. 18, 2020, Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87, from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. 

     Bader Ginsburg was confirmed to the court in August of 1993 by a vote of 96-3 in the Senate. Appointed by Bill Clinton she took judicial oath on Aug. 10 of that same year, making her the first ever jewish female to serve on the Supreme Court. 

     According to Ballotpedia, an encyclopedia for American politics, Bader Ginsburg is famously known for her liberal stance on women’s rights. In 1996 she wrote the majority opinion for United States v. Virginia, a case questioning the constitutionality of a women’s only versus a men’s only military academy in Virginia. In a 7-1 decision, the court decided that it was unconstitutional. 

     Before she served the Supreme Court, Bader Ginsburg graduated top of her class at Columbia Law School (1956), became the second female law professor at Rutgers and had to fight for equal pay (1963), co-founded the first law journal on women’s rights (1969), became the first tenured female law professor at Columbia (1972), and co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at American Civil Liberties Union (1972).

     When senior Elise Snyder first heard about the justice’s passing, she “felt [her] heart drop.” She continues saying “I know how much RBG has done for women’s, reproductive, and LGBT rights. Having her seat empty is scary, especially in our current political climate.” Fellow senior Caroline Ulmer had a similar reaction saying “I was hoping it wasn’t real.”

     Both Snyder and Ulmer describe Bader Ginsburg as a “role model” for them. “She was a strong woman who always stood her ground,” Ulmer describes. “She battled sexism in everything she did and cared for her cancer ridden husband,” Snyder added.

     The two seniors have worries regarding people’s rights with her seat now being available. “I’m worried about taking several steps back in terms of LGBT inclusion and reproductive rights,” Snyder says. Both students express nervousness regarding Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court case from 1973 that gave women the right to an abortion. 

     According to Bader Ginsburg’s granddaughter, RBG said “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Both Ulmer and Synder hope that this wish is granted for the late justice. 

     Snyder adds, “there was a precedent set clearly by the republican party in 2016 when there was an empty seat under Obama. [The Senate] refused to even hear his nomination with nine months until the election. With a little over a month until the election now, it would be such a double standard.” 

     Snyder hopes that she will be honored in selecting someone to fill her seat, “No one will be able to replace her, but someone needs to continue her work because it is very far from finished.”

     Ulmer concludes saying, “I’m happy she got to live a long life and make such a difference, her legacy will live on forever.”