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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Icon of Rights

  • 29 Sep 2020

“I would like to see a new beginning,” these are the words pronounced by Ginsburg at Georgetown University Law Center on the 1st February 2020, speaking about Equal Rights (Amendment).

RBG, as she was popularly referred to in the USA, (March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020) was a Supreme Court Justice and human rights paladin, legal builder of gender equality for what she successfully fought since 1970. Defensor of rights, freedom and health for people, women and minorities she combated specific cases in gender rights violation one at a time, obtaining significant results in American legislation. In 2019 she won the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture for her considerable contributions to social justice and equality. 

She dealt with gender disparity since college, and later during law studies, struggling to be professionally recognized in a male-dominated environment. Initially enrolled at the Harvard Law School, she moved to the Columbia Law School where she graduated, first of her class, in 1959.  She was the first person to become a member of both the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review — proving to those elites that a woman could succeed.

In 1971, for the first time the Supreme Court had struck down a law for  gender-based discrimination, due to a Ginsburg successful argument, which analysed why men could be automatically preferred over women as estate executors (Reed v Reed).

As a counselor of  the American Civil Liberties Union, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project for which she debated and won five on six gender equality cases before the Supreme Court; she co-founded Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the oldest American legal periodic, focused on women’s right law.

From 1993 to 2020, she served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and she immediately showed to be one of the strongest Defensor of abortion rights. “This [abortion] is something central to a woman’s life, to her dignity… It’s a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she’s being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”, she said during her 1993 confirmation hearing, referring to Roe v Wade, historic 1973 Supreme Court decision which represents a major precedent for American abortion legislation. RBG was a pivotal barrier to the Court against any direct attack on the mentioned case, declaring the right to abortion as crucial to women’s autonomy.

Sure that notorious RBG’s life and work will continue to inspire people and be an example of the fight against any human rights violations.

***Picture credits: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Mural, Washington, DC, Photo by Ted Eytan