A wise man once asserted that “success is not a function of the size of your title, but the richness of your contribution.” Although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a remarkable title, it is her accomplishments in the realm of women’s rights that are truly indicative of her success. By virtue of entering the legal field at a time when it was dominated by men, Justice Ginsburg faced a challenging road to success. Yet, despite being ridiculed, taunted and second-guessed for concurrently being a wife, mother and law student, she graduated at the top of her class from Columbia Law School, carved an impressive career for herself and eventually accepted an offer to join the Supreme Court. Through her profound political capacity, she has impacted the lives of all American women.
I think Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a woman to be celebrated because she epitomizes the Jewish quality of pursuing justice.
Being one of the nine girls accepted into Harvard Law School in 1956, a time notorious for sexism, Justice Ginsburg was often asked to justify taking the spot of a male. After law school, despite her distinguished academic record, she was not given the opportunity to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, solely because she was a woman. Later in life, when she became a professor in Rutgers Law School, albeit working just as hard as her male colleagues, she was paid less because her husband had a well-paying job. After suffering so extensively at the hands of gender inequality, Justice Ginsburg decided to co-found the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she devoted herself to fighting gender discrimination cases. Utilizing her position of power as the director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, winning five of them in a span of three years. In 1980, Justice Ginsburg was appointed as Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, effectively ending her time as a litigator for ACLU.
Thirteen short years later, President Clinton nominated her for a position on the Supreme Court, a position that would make her the first Jewish woman and only the second woman to be appointed to the court. In a decision that made history, she accepted the offer thus enabling her to have more power in her undertaking to achieve equality. Since her first day sitting on the Court, Justice Ginsburg has been seeking reform after reform for the betterment of women’s rights. One such reform was obtained in the 1996 case, United States v. Virginia, in which Justice Ginsburg wrote the court’s decision that Virginia Military Institute, which was supported in part by state funding, could no longer refuse to admit women. In 1999, she won the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award for her activism, dedication and overall contributions to civil rights.
With her multitude of accomplishments speaking for themselves, she gained a reputation as a proficiently powerful advocate of women’s rights. Many would even go as far as to tribute Justice Ginsburg as being one of the pioneers who helped pave the path towards ending gender- discrimination within the legal system. Being that RBG is someone I have always looked up to when I heard that an upcoming movie was to be devoted to her, I was stoked. As a female, I think there is much to be learned from her perseverance and dedication. Becoming who she is now wasn’t a simple process; every advance in Justice Ginsburg’s career required another battle be fought. I often take for granted how fortunate I am to be living at a point in time where women can so freely rise up to the highest of heights.
As a Jew, I think Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a woman to be celebrated because she epitomizes the Jewish quality of pursuing justice. Three Pesukim into Parshat Shoftim prevails the famous line, “Justice, Justice you should pursue.” And pursuing justice is precisely what she has spent her whole career doing. She recognized that gender discrimination is an unacceptable societal problem, passionately advocated against it and took and is still taking the actions necessary to legally protect American women.
Sara Khodadadian is a junior at Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in Hewlett, N.Y.