RBG

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87.

In 1996, the Supreme Court was in a heated battle with the state of Virginia over gender discrimination in one of the most prestigious military colleges in the nation, the Virginia Military Institute.

In the landmark decision of United States v. Virginia (1996), Ginsburg would play a major role in changing the tide of government sanctioned, sexist policy.

Justice Ginsburg, authoring the Court’s opinion in the decision, stated, “generalizations about 'the way women are,' estimates of what is appropriate for most women, no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description."

The Supreme Court ruled against the state of Virginia, making it unconstitutional for a state educational facility to restrict access to women.

Justice Ginsburg has built for herself a legacy of fighting for the equal treatment of women in the United States— a legacy that roots itself much deeper than United States v. Virginia (1996).

She has fought for equal access to healthcare, job opportunities and pay equality. In decisions such as Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), she would also fight for racial equality.

In her concurring opinion with the Court’s decision, that deemed affirmative action policies to be constitutionally valid, she wrote, “However strong the publicís desire for improved education systems may be ... it remains the current reality that many minority students encounter markedly inadequate and unequal educational opportunities.”

Even long before she was nominated to the Supreme Court, she had been fighting against the stigma against women in the world of academia.

She graduated at the top of her class with a bachelor’s degree in government at Cornell University in 1954. Afterwards she would attend Harvard Law School in 1956, being only one of nine women in a class of nearly 500 men.

In the book “Pinstripes and Pearls”, Judith Hope, who attended Harvard Law School with Justice Ginsburg, recalled how Ginsburg, her and other women in her class, were invited to the Dean of Harvard Law for dinner.

The Dean would reportedly ask the women, “Why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?"

Due to her husband, Martin Ginsburg, acquiring a job in New York City, she transferred to Columbia Law School. There, she would yet again graduate at the top of her class and by then, be the first woman to be on two major law reviews: The Harvard Law Review and The Columbia Law Review.

The rest of her life story can be read virtually anywhere, but her role in fighting for the rights of women and minorities remains as a piece of American history written in stone.

And in the hearts young Americans seeking an education, to better themselves and others, Justice Ginsburg will be remembered as the woman who made that venture even more possible for every American regardless of their race or sex.

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