Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933–2020) Tribute List

September 19, 2020
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, died of pancreatic cancer on September 18 at the age of 87. Appointed by President Clinton in 1993, she became well-known as an advocate for women's equality; her dissent in the 2007 Ledbetter case is credited with inspiring the Fair Pay Act of 2009. Hailed as a brilliant legal scholar and an inspiration to millions, she earned the monicker "Notorious RBG." Just prior to her death, she said, "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." This list includes words from her writings, speeches, and Supreme Court decisions.
"Arizona voters sought to restore the core principle that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. The elections clause, we affirm, does not hinder that endeavor."
– Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission decision (2015)
"Think back to 1787. Who were 'we the people'? … They certainly weren't women … they surely weren't people held in human bondage. The genius of our Constitution is that over now more than 200 sometimes turbulent years that 'we' has expanded and expanded."
- Speech at Georgetown University (2015)
"I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks."
- As quoted in the documentary "RBG" (2018)
“He used words to paint pictures. Even today, when I read, I notice with pleasure when an author has chosen a particular word, a particular place, for the picture it will convey to the reader.”
– My Own Words (2016)
"The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman's life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a full adult human responsible for her own choices."
– Senate hearing (1993)
"Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."
– Shelby County v. Holder dissent (2013)
" Dissents speak to a future age. It's not simply to say, 'My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.' But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that's the dissenter's hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow."
– Interview with NPR, 2002
"A would-be polluter may or may not be dissuaded by the existence of a remedy on the books, but a defendant once hit in its pocketbook will surely think twice before polluting again."
– Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services decision (2000)
"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time."
- As quoted in the documentary "RBG" (2018)
"Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception."
- CNN (2009)
“I remember envying the boys long before I even knew the word feminism, because I liked shop better than cooking or sewing.”
– My Own Words (2016)
"No one who is in business for profit can foist his or her beliefs on a workforce that includes many people who do not share those beliefs."
– New Republic interview (2014)
"So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune."
– My Own Words (2016)
“The enormous difference between fighting gender discrimination as opposed to race discrimination is good people immediately perceive race discrimination as evil and intolerable. But when I talked about sex-based discrimination, I got the response, 'What are you talking about? Women are treated ever so much better than men!”
"Institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life."
– Olmstead v. L.C. decision (1999)
“When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”
– My Own Words (2016)
"Our precedent suggests, and lower courts have overwhelmingly held, that the unlawful practice is the current payment of salaries infected by gender-based (or race-based) discrimination – a practice that occurs whenever a paycheck delivers less to a woman than to a similarly situated man."
– Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. dissent (2007)
"Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be perceived as favoring one religion over another, the very risk the Establishment Clause was designed to preclude. The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."
– Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores dissent (2014)
“Rabbi Alfred Bettleheim once said: “ Prejudice saves us a painful trouble, the trouble of thinking.”
– My Own Words (2016)
"Presumptively invalid ... a law or official policy that denies to women, simply because they are women, equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in, and contribute to society, based upon what they can do."
U.S. v. Virginia decision (1996)
"I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill—very much like a plumber. But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you."
- The Mercury News (2017)
"The court’s conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the court’s own judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not decide the presidency of the United States."
– Bush v. Gore dissent (2000)
"Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake proofed, places, where there is greater racial polarization in voting, have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination."
– Dissent on decision to strike down parts of the Voting Rights Act (2013)
“I don’t say women’s rights—I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.”
– My Own Words (2016)
“In Greek mythology, Pallas Athena was celebrated as the goddess of reason and justice.1 To end the cycle of violence that began with Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his daughter, Iphigenia, Athena created a court of justice to try Orestes, thereby installing the rule of law in lieu of the reign of vengeance."
– My Own Words (2016)

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