Political Issue: The notorious R.B.G.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court justice and champion of women’s rights, died Sept. 18 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Justice Ginsburg served on the Supreme Court for 27 years as its second female justice ever, and was instrumental in numerous court cases involving gender equality, LGBTQ rights, undocumented immigrants and disabled people.

Ginsburg began her political career with a challenge, as one of only nine women in her Harvard Law School class of over 500 students. “I had three strikes against me,” Ginsburg said in an interview with CBS of the prejudice she faced. “One I was Jewish, two I was a woman, but the killer was I was the mother of a 4-year-old child.”

She later transferred to Columbia Law School, where she would graduate first in her class before beginning to practice law in New York City. Before her time on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg taught at Columbia as well as Rutgers University Law School. She then directed the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she argued hundreds of gender discrimination cases. Ginsburg was appointed by Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980, then in 1993, Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court.

During her time as a Supreme Court justice, Ginsburg used her strength and determination to provide a voice for marginalized groups who had gone without one. She helped pass laws to end discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender, require equal benefits for women and grant reproductive rights among other historic changes.

“We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold, because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination,” Ginsburg said during an interview with journalist Lynn Sherr on equality.

In the wake of Ginsburg’s death, a political commotion has ensued over the appointment of a new justice. An appointment by President Donald Trump would likely result in a conservative majority, leaving the Supreme Court with a 6-3 ratio for the right. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg reportedly said prior to her death.