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Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg? What Was Her Legacy?

By Annabelle Reynolds

On September 18th, 2020, the nation lost one of the most influential supreme court justices to date. Born in 1933 and attending law school in 1956, Ruth Bader Ginsburg endured her fair share of sexism. Throughout her professional career, she used her position to help bring gender equality to the United States.

When she enrolled at Harvard Law in the fall of 1956, the dean reportedly invited all 9 women from a class of 500 men to his home for a dinner. It is said he then asked them, “Why are you at Harvard Law, taking the place of a man?” This was, unfortunately, just the first of many bits of sexism Ginsburg faced on her male-dominated career path. She eventually transferred and graduated from Columbia Law School where she tied for first in her class. After that, she had a difficult time finding somewhere to work that would take her. Despite her recommendations from professors at Harvard Law and Columbia Law, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter rejected her to a clerkship solely due to the fact she was a woman. With some more aggressive bartering from one of her old professors, she was hired in a clerkship position by Judge Edmund L. Palmieri of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Palmieri still had reservations, though, and Ginsburg was given the position only under the condition that she could be replaced by a replacement clerk had she not been able to hold the job correctly. She proudly held that position for two years. After a long legal career, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated by President Bill Clinton and sworn in for the position she is most commonly known for, a Supreme Court Justice.

As a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg continued to bring liberal ideas and opinions to the court, and be a trailblazer for women in the professional world everywhere. She was influential in cases such as Ledbetter v. Goodyear, a case about a woman who was attempting to sue her employer because she was getting paid less than her male counterparts due to her gender. Ginsburg ruled in favor of the right for any person to take legal action based on gender-influenced wage discrimination, which was against the previous ruling of the court.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been inspiring to so many people, including a group of students at La Follette high school who started a club called WYCH, which stands for Wo[men]’s. Youth. Changing. History. With co-presidents Lucy Murphy and Meadow Corfits, WYCH works to create a safe environment for students to talk about topics such as consent and sexual assault, and to ultimately empower women to advocate for themselves and get the help they need. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a huge advocate for women, and a confident, hard working female who continues to inspire WYCH to this day,” Lucy Murphy (11) said.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg endured sexism and prejudice based on her gender, and did everything she could to make sure women after her didn’t have to face the same things. She was an influential voice on the Supreme Court for nearly 27 years until her death on September 18th, 2020. Ginsburg was a feminist icon for many years, and her legacy will live on forever.

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