The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent shockwaves through the legal profession and through society as a whole. Although much of the commentary on her legacy has focused on her work to secure rights for women, the opinions she wrote and positions she advocated were not limited to protecting the rights of one segment of society. As she described her own philosophy, “I don’t say women’s rights—I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.” Justice Ginsburg also advocated for disability rights and environmental protection and against voter discrimination, with opinions that protect citizens regardless of gender.
Hearing the powerful reactions from our lawyers about Justice Ginsburg’s passing, we created a new “RBG Remembrances” feature as a way for people to share their tributes within the Morgan Lewis community. Here we share just a few of those memories and the ways that Justice Ginsburg personally impacted our people. What comes through as a common theme about the “Notorious RBG” is the sense of familiarity or connection to her. She was often admired for the fact that she never lost sight of the reality that the decisions of the court affect real people, and maybe that is why so many people are moved to express their thoughts at this time.
My heart is breaking over Justice Ginsberg’s passing, but I am reflecting on her courageous and relentless fight not just for gender, but human, equality. As a woman of color beginning her legal career in the early ‘80’s, I know that I have been a direct beneficiary of her work. And my daughters, both college athletes, understand that they too stand on her shoulders. Here is an RBG quote that has always inspired me.
MSNBC Journalist: And when the time comes, what would you like to be remembered for?
RBG: Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. Let’s work to honor her legacy.
“One of the many things I appreciated so much about Justice Ginsburg was her refusal to give up or give in. Her famous dissents were powerful because they reflected a determination to hold her colleagues accountable for the impact of the decisions of the highest court in the land. She was a relentless advocate for all people, and she protected the rights of those who are underrepresented, disenfranchised, and have traditionally been frozen out of the ability to insist on fair and equal treatment. She was an advocate for equality for all, and she recognized the dignity of every person as well as the importance of empathy and compassion. In so doing, she changed the life of every woman in the United States and many elsewhere in the world. It is up to us to carry forward her legacy, her humanity, her will and her passion for equality. In days that are dark, may we be reminded of her conviction that ‘so often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune’ and carry on in her honor.”
“It’s hard to find a single word or description to sum up all of the ways RBG has inspired me. I admire her tenacity, resilience, strength of character, commitment, work ethic, perseverance, courage, outspokenness, humility, and sense of humor. I could go on, but those are the top 10.”
“Justice Ginsburg was a champion for human rights and equality for ALL. She pioneered the path in America’s legal jurisprudence that we are ALL created equal and ALL are endowed with unalienable rights. RBG was courageous in her pursuit of justice. And she it all with dignity and respect for ALL. I and our country will sorely miss her.”
“I always admired how strong Justice Ginsburg was. She never allowed her stature make her back down in what she knew was right! Often times my 20-year old daughter will say to me that she wishes she was taller. But I’ve told her to take a look at RBG and see what she’s accomplished. She was feisty, strong, extremely brilliant and was never intimidated by anyone taller than she was. You stand up for what you believe and never let anyone make you fill inferior, whether they’re looking over you or not.”
“Justice Ginsburg makes me proud to be an attorney. I remember being in awe when she spoke at my little law school in 2009; to be in the same room as this giant practically took my breath away. With her passing, I feel like I’ve lost my shield in the ongoing battle for equality and justice. In her honor, I will do more to create change in our society and I hope everyone will commit to do the same.”