Like so many other women, late Friday afternoon my cellphone alerts went off nonstop with three-letter texts from all my girlfriends that simply read “RBG” along with a cry emoji. One of the more detailed texts I received was from my sister, “We need more RBGs. Not Less.”
A few days later, I’m still feeling raw from the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and exceptionally disheartened that the noise swarming around filling her vacant seat immediately clouded over what should be the celebration of an incredible and inspirational life. Political ramifications aside, I wanted to pause, take a breath, and pay tribute to this legend, pop culture icon, and tireless equality trailblazer.
Monday morning, a colleague shared the following sentiment, which is so beautifully stated: “As some of you may know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (she was also the first Jewish woman to become a Supreme Court Justice). As tradition states in Judaism, a person who dies on Rosh Hashana is a tzaddik, or someone who was so righteous and needed on earth that God kept them there until the very last minute. Whether you’re religious or not, I think the symbolism speaks for itself… It’s also Jewish tradition to say ‘May their memory be a blessing.’ For Ruth, many are saying ‘May her memory be a revolution,’ which fits her perfectly.”
There’s no shortage of ‘Best of RBG content,’ but it’s worth recognizing Justice Ginsburg was the preeminent women’s rights litigator in the U.S. prior to being just the second woman ever confirmed to the Supreme Court in its history. Of the 114 justices appointed to the seat, only 4 have been women – including the Notorious RBG. This CNBC video highlights many of her revolutionary accomplishments.
While we still strive for gender parity, RBG fought for legal precedents under the Equal Protection Clause of the constitution which created a backbone of anti-discriminatory federal law. As Antonin Scalia put it, "She became the leading (and very successful) litigator on behalf of women's rights—the Thurgood Marshall of that cause, so to speak." Her pop culture icon status was solidified by her passionate and feisty dissents – providing the minority opinion to supreme court rulings speaking her truth with incredible grit and panache. Justice Ginsburg gained notoriety for the content of these dissents and the accessories she chose on the bench, communicating her staunch disagreement with the law of the land via the collar she wore. While the RBG Dissent Collar will be forever tied to her legacy, she habitually sent signals regarding her stance on issues via her choice of neckwear.
I have an immense gratitude and appreciation for the woman who played a pivotal role in dismantling systemic gender discrimination and paved the way to a more gender balanced world. I hope we’re all inspired to celebrate her legacy, pick up our dissent mantle and continue to move the needle on equality for those who do not participate in full parity. Perhaps one day, we’ll see a Ruth Bader Ginsburg Equal Rights Amendment. How fitting that would be.