On September 18th, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of pancreatic cancer that had spread throughout her body. She stubbornly fought that cancer for many years before it ended her life. Several summaries of Ruth Bader Ginsburg are available in print on-line and elsewhere. I encourage you to read at least one of them.
What I have felt as I read about her life is that she was an important contributor to our legal system by fighting to protect economic opportunities in the age of neoliberalism. She fought for equality under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. She fought to protect the opportunity for fathers after their spouse dies to get benefits in support of the family, for women as they seek employment and for disabled people whom Justice Ginsburg believed should have opportunities too. There are many other examples.
She believed that the government shouldn’t be able to restrict a woman’s right to chose an abortion if a woman wanted one. This opinion has angered some people, and some connect Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court’s continued support for Roe v. Wade (1973). Some blame her with others for the number of abortions that have happened in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade (1973). I don’t think that she deserves to be blamed for what some people have chosen to do because they had liberty to do what they wanted to do. Free choice has been a part of American tolerance since the founding of our nation. Perhaps instead of blaming Ruth Bader Ginsburg it would be better to examine changes in our economic and political system that have created new obstacles to family formation and to family prosperity.
My husband read aloud a couple of paragraphs that the Justice wrote about the end of WWII when she was only 13 years old (https://democraticunderground.com/100214102557). When I listened to the words that Justice Ginsburg wrote as a young child, I was amazed at her wish that everyone in our society should be connected by bonds of affection. Inclusiveness is so needed in our society today.
Some will complain about this or that when they see what Justice Ginsburg did. She continued all the way to the end of her life in a long legal career that gave generously and lovingly to whatever Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed would be the right thing to do under the law. She was a great writer and couldn’t have influenced our legal system so well without knowing the law very well. So few examples are there for us to see nowadays of that kind of generosity: generosity in learning and applying knowledge and sharing that knowledge to make a huge difference over a lifetime career. She must have been both tired and ill during her treatments for 5 bouts of cancer but she found a way to contribute throughout her life in a way that shined a caring light on issues involving individual opportunity. I don’t expect more than that from anyone.
As we go forward without her it is fitting that we remember her as a champion of fairness in people’s lives under the law. She battled for all of us in a way that made a difference for how Americans live their day-to-day lives, now. She concentrated on one area under the law and fought individual cases where her written legal opinions could carve new standards into our nation’s practice of the law. Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t contribute to every area of the law. She couldn’t make our system perfect. But she made it better according to what she believed was fair. She supported liberty.
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