A World Without Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Picture this: it is Friday, Sept. 18 at 7:48 pm. I am in the middle of a Zoom call when I glance down at the news notification on my phone and feel the ground being pulled out from under me. Stunned, I reread the headline that says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at age 87 from cancer complications. It feels unreal.

In the midst of an already tumultuous year, this was yet another piece of bad news no one expected. RBG, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg is often called, had such a presence it felt like she would live forever, or at least until Nov. 3.

Crushed by her untimely death, I think about all the good she has left the world with. She may not have become a feminist until later in her life, but she did not casually join the movement; she came in with a hammer ready to smash glass ceilings. She started law school with the “disadvantage” of being a woman, wife and mother, but none of those identities stopped her from graduating at the top of her class.

She realized throughout her studies and later, while looking for employment, how hard being a woman in America is; especially for a woman trying to make it as a lawyer —  a “man’s profession.” In reaction to her own struggles, she decided to fight for gender equality on all fronts and co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This group won the fight for women’s rights case by litigating carefully selected cases, in which each individual trial highlighted how unconstitutional gender bias laws were. One of the big cases argued before the Supreme Court was Moritz v. Commissioner, where RBG argued that men were equally as disadvantaged by gender-based laws in certain areas as women were in most other areas.

RBG is not only a hero to many women, but has a special place in the hearts of many Millennials and Generation Z-ers. RBG acted as a beacon of hope and an inspiration for young men and women, so when she died, I think, speaking as a Gen Z-er, we all lost a little bit of hope. She was an icon that reminded us that not all government is bad, that there is someone in your corner. Now on top of worrying about who’s going to win the next election, people also have to worry about who’s going to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court.

The rest of the government is partisan, but I believe the courts should be non-partisan since their job is to strictly uphold the Constitution without bias. Unfortunately, it seems that we are straying  further and further away from this. Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee as conservative Amy Coney Barrett, who would solidify the conservative majority in the Supreme Court.

While Barrett may be more tight-lipped about her beliefs, especially now as they vote on her potential appointment, she has a history of voting in favor of conservative views. Trained under former Judge Scalia, she shares his conservative views, if not leaning even further to the right. Many are scared of what appointing Barrett to the Supreme Court could do to many important policies such as the Affordable Care Act or Roe v. Wade. She is the antithesis of everything RBG stood for. On social media, people have said that she walks through doors RBG opened for women, just to slam them shut behind her. Personally, this is terrifying to think about. What will our country look like if Barrett gets appointed?