The Death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Katie Hermanson

On Friday, Sept. 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) passed away in her home in Washington D.C. at the age of 87 due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She will be the first female to lie in state at the US Capitol.


“Being the first female and the first Jewish person to lie in state in the Capitol Building was eye opening,” said Mr. DiFranco.


So far there has not been much diversity, but this is a step toward a more diverse government.


“Regardless of political affiliation or perspective, nearly all reports I saw were positive about RBG as a person,” said DiFranco.


Such a large event requires lots of media coverage and while most of it was positive, some was negative.


“I saw a couple posts on social media of people celebrating her death and making jokes out of it which was very disrespectful,” said Nicoletta Ferrara.


RBG was involved in many landmark cases in the Supreme Court. For example, Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) is a very important case which secured the right for marriage equality.


“It is one of the seminal moments that I can distinctly remember where I was. I was at a teacher workshop in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center and news of the case decision broke. There was a spontaneous peaceful rally right outside of Independence Hall. It seemed so appropriate that the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed had this outpouring of love,” said DiFranco.


With the death of a Supreme Court justice comes the possibility of a new appointment. This is an election year which means it is controversial whether President Trump should appoint a new justice or if he should wait until after the election as it would give more say to the voters.


“RBG’s dying wish was to not be replaced until after the election, but not even a week after, they already were looking at replacement,” said Ferrara.


The potential nominee is Amy Coney Barrett who is very conservative, the opposite of RBG.


“Assuming Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, there is potential for new landmark rulings in the future,” said DiFranco.


This demonstrates that there is a potential for RBG’s work to be undone by a new conservative justice.


However, Mr. DiFranco adds that, “the odds of a case getting to the Supreme Court are actually very slim (only about 1% of cases filed are actually heard by the court).”


“I feel like her replacement is going to make us move backwards in women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights,” said Ferrara.


Seeing that the new possible appointment is extremely conservative, this is a strong possibility as it would swing the court to a 6-3 majority in favor of the conservatives.


RBG became the second female Supreme Court justice in 1993 when she was appointed by President Clinton. She worked her way up to the top despite going through so much discrimination because she was a woman.


When RBG went to Harvard Law school, one of her professors invited all of the women—there were very few of them— to his home for dinner. At this dinner, he asked each of them why they were at Harvard Law taking the place of a man. This is one of the defining moments that set RBG on her feminist track.


At one of her first jobs as a law professor, she was informed that she would be paid less because of her husband’s steady job. She was also denied the job of Supreme Court clerk because she was a woman.  


She eventually proved them wrong and argued six gender discrimination cases for the Supreme Court, winning five of them.


RBG became such an inspiration to many and will be dearly missed.


“I love that RBG is so inspiring to many, and such a wonderful role model. As someone who stood up for her beliefs and embraced the concept of ‘dissent’, she has helped our country progress,” said DiFranco.