When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, a flood of tributes and future promises rose among her many admirers. To visit the front of the Supreme Court those first days after the 87-year-old’s death was a proud, tearful inspiration for many.
As America votes amid a pandemic — as well as a Senate hearing for a new justice of the Supreme Court, which began a new term last week — Ginsburg continues to inspire not only as a feminist idol but as a voting-rights advocate par excellence.
By now, the image of Notorious RBG shown wearing her white “dissent collar” is recalled for many things, including the time she criticized the court in 2013 for disposing of a part of the Voting Right Act. She wrote that it was like “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
That’s one more reason to vote.
The following are a few — out of so many — poignant tributes from those who knew RBG well.
“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement. “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.”
Justice Elena Kagan wrote: “To me, as to countless others, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a hero. As an attorney, she led the fight to grant women equal rights under the law. As a judge, she did justice every day — working to ensure that this country’s legal system lives up to its ideals and extends its rights and protections to those once excluded. And in both roles, she held to — indeed, exceeded — the highest standards of legal craft. Her work was as careful as it was creative, as disciplined as it was visionary. It will endure for as long as Americans retain their commitment to law. Ruth reached out to encourage and assist me in my career, as she did for so many others, long before I came to the Supreme Court. And she guided and inspired me, on matters large and small, once I became her colleague. I will miss her — her intellect, her generosity, her sly wit, her manifest integrity and her endless capacity for work — for the rest of my life. I give my deepest condolences to her beloved children and grandchildren. May her memory be a blessing.”
Georgetowner and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer paid tribute to RBG with a poem, writing: “I heard of Ruth’s death while I was reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish at the Rosh Hashanah service. I thought:
a great Justice;
a woman of valour;
a rock of righteousness;
and my good, good friend.
The world is a better place for her having lived in it.
And so is her family;
the legal community;
and the nation.”
Former President Barack Obama wrote: “Over a long career on both sides of the bench — as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist — Justice Ginsburg 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 of us. It’s about who we are — and who we can be. 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.”
Georgetowner and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wrote: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg devoted her life to the powerful premise that every person counts. She was a warrior for justice, equality and democracy. Thanks to her, those who carry on these fights will have not only history, but also the law, on their side.”