On this day… we honour the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after her passing. Justice Ginsburg was undoubtedly a giant of jurisprudence and legal reform in the United States of America’s judicial history. Her very first opinion as a Supreme Court Justice – in ‘Harris v. Forklift Systems Inc’ (510 U.S. 17, 25 (1993) – epitomises her doctrinal approach to equality and equal opportunity in the workplace.
Her legacy shall long be remembered as a heroine of feminist activism and a bastion of liberal jurisprudence, and greater equality and equal opportunity for all. Her legacy of inspiring a whole new generation of feminists – culminating in her appointment as the second female Supreme Court Justice in 1993 (first, Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by Pres. Reagan in 1981) – reached a moment in Reed v. Reed (1971/2). Ruth Bader Ginsburg – at the time having become the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project – was the principal author of the written brief on Reed v. Reed (1971/2), using the Fourteenth Amendment to pave the way for a greater scrutiny on gender bias. Her written brief for Reed v. Reed (1971/2) led to the dismantling of state preferential treatment for men as executors of estates, citing the discrimination against women in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Two years later, another major career moment came in the form of Ginsburg’s fist appearance before the Supreme Court, subsequently presenting the winning argument in Frontiero v. Richardson (1973), scrutinising the application of disparate treatment, based on gender, for military benefits to the spouses of female service members of the United States Armed Forces.
Justice Ginsburg personified the indivisibility of the law – the Constitution of the United States of America – and this is perhaps best shown through her friendship and words for her fellow Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (serving as Associate Justice along side Ginsburg from 1986 until his death in 2016). In 2013, their friendship was made tribute into a Comedic-Opera performance – Ginsburg/Scalia, premiering at the Castletown Festival in 2015 – Justice Ginsberg wrote of her friendship with Justice Scalia after his passing in February 2016: “Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: “We are different, we are one,” different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve…”.
Humbling, empowering, there are many words one can attribute to Justice Ginsburg. This tribute alone cannot make a thorough enough eulogy to her life in full, as it was so fruitful in its endeavour and purpose. Were we all lucky to live in her time and feel the impact she brought to honouring the duty of law and legal servants to all Americans, and indeed all humankind.
On behalf of all the editors, rest in peace, Justice Ginsburg.
Some recommended readings:
Neuborne, Burt, ‘Introduction of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’, Californian Law Review, vol.95:6 (Dec, 2007), pp2213-2215 (https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.st-andrews.ac.uk/…/204391…)
Barnett, Martha, ‘Human Rights Hero: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’, Human Rights, vol.37:3 (Summer, 2010), pp26-25 (https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.st-andrews.ac.uk/…/230323…)
Merritt, Deborah Jones; Liberman, David M., ‘Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Jurisprudence of Opportunity and Equality’, Columbia Law Review, vol.104;1 (January, 2004), pp39-48 ( https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.st-andrews.ac.uk/…/409934…)
Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971)(https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/404/71/)(https://supremecourthistory.org/lc_breaking_new_ground.html)
Fontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973)(https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/411/677)(https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/411/677/)