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Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s ‘profound legacy’ on Supreme Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg made multiple landmark pronouncements on gender discrimination during her nearly three-decade stay on the Supreme Court. | Renee Josse de Lisle/The Cougar

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 at age 87, is succeeded by her legacy as a legal trailblazer and advocate for women’s rights. 

The associate justice spent more than a quarter century extending equal protection for all under the Constitution through her pronouncements on gender-based discrimination and gender equality, among other landmark proclamations. 

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be remembered for so many reasons,” said UH Law Center professor Renee Knake Jefferson. “She leaves behind a profound legacy that reflects the many complex parts of her identity as a woman, activist, lawyer, judge, mother and wife.” 

Ginsburg’s legacy on the Supreme Court is marked by a number of pivotal pronouncements on women’s rights, including her dissent in the 2007 case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co

After the Supreme Court ruled that a female tire plant supervisor waited too long to file a pay discrimination claim against her employer, Ginsburg asserted that the majority’s interpretation of filing deadlines did not consider the harm caused by pay prejudice. 

“Though the majority of the court disagreed with her, Congress later passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill that President Obama signed after taking office,” Jefferson said. 

Reflections on Ginsburg’s victories for women in legal arenas and in society have been accompanied by the political reality that she passed away just weeks before the 2020 presidential election. 

The open Supreme Court seat has fanned the flames of an already heated presidential election, with President Donald Trump working to appoint a new justice before the end of his term.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said Trump’s nominee will get a vote in the Senate, a reversal on his previous Obama-era opinion. 

The appointment of a new Supreme Court justice could lead more people to the polls in November.

“This likely gives voters for both parties even more motivation to vote, which is a good thing to see more people exercising this important right,” Jefferson said. “One of the best ways we can honor the passing of Justice Ginsburg is make sure to take the time to vote.” 

College Republicans recruitment director Tamon Hamlett explained that the organization mourns Ginsburg’s passing and looks forward to the new Supreme Court appointment.

“Whether you agree with (Ginsburg) completely or not, she is the epitome of judicial activism and broke barriers for women,” Hamlett said. “Amy Coney Barrett will certainly make a great successor to her.”

College Democrats president Blake McNeill underscores the importance of maintaining the progress Ginsburg has made for systemic reform by voting this November.

“We must ensure that we all go out and vote this November. The people will have their say in 35 days,” McNeill said. “Our fight for systemic reform is even more important (now). We must fight to prevent backsliding in the wake of Justice Ginsburg’s passing.”

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