In memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sept. 20, 2020
Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,
It is with great sadness that we learned that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, H ‘96, lost her valiant battle with cancer on Friday at age 87. Justice Ginsburg was a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights in the workplace and elsewhere long before she was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She was the second woman to ascend to the nation’s highest court. Justice Ginsburg – who became affectionately known as “Notorious RBG” to a younger generation – was admired for her keen intellect, her determination in the face of injustice, and in particular for her eloquent dissents from majority decisions.
Justice Ginsburg accepted an honorary degree from Brandeis just three years after she was named to the Court. In 2016, she was a keynote speaker at Brandeis’ celebration of the 100th anniversary of our namesake Louis D. Brandeis’ ascension to the Supreme Court. In a speech attended by several thousand at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, Ginsburg spoke about how the Brandeis Brief was the first legal brief to rely more on scientific information than on legal citations, and how that approach enabled future arguments before the court – including ones made by Ginsburg herself.
University Professor Anita Hill recalled Justice Ginsburg in this way:
Justice Ginsburg was a role model and a fearless champion of equality. She was unapologetic when she declared during a Supreme Court oral argument that the grand goal of federal law was to “undo generations of rank discrimination in housing.” Justice Ginsburg showed the same resolve when, in a dissent, she called upon Congress to correct a Supreme Court decision that she viewed as “totally at odds with the robust protection against workplace discrimination.” Whether arguing before the Supreme Court or admonishing her colleagues on the Court, she spoke truth to power. In doing so, she brought American law closer to our lived experiences and to the equal justice promised in our Constitution.
We should never lose sight of the enduring legacy Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves behind, and we should embrace her determination to work toward opportunity and justice.
May her memory be a blessing.