The dedicated staff of Columbia High School’s award-winning student newspaper, The Columbian, proudly present their third online edition at chsthecolumbian.com. The following article “Remembering the Notorious RBG” by Molly Gray, Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Columbian and member of the Class of 2021, was originally published by The Columbian on Oct. 31, 2020. With permission from CHS administration and staff at the newspaper, Village Green will be posting more content from the current issue of The Columbian in the coming weeks.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87 on Sept. 18, 2020 in her home in Washington, DC.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, commonly known as RBG, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Her appointment was a historic one, seeing as she was the first Jewish woman and second woman overall to fill a seat on the bench. She voted on multiple groundbreaking and important cases during her time serving, including Obergefell v. Hodges (legalizing same-sex marriage) and United States v. Virginia (allowing women to attend the Virginia Military institute). RBG was a powerful female voice in a position dominated by men, standing up for gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial equality. From 2006-2009, Justice Ginsburg was the only woman on the bench. During this time she was outnumbered by both men and conservatives, but still fought hard and stood up for what she believed. As she famously said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
Ginsburg was inspirational to many, especially women who could see themselves in her. Lori Martling, an English teacher at Columbia High School, talked about what it was like when RBG was appointed. In law school at the time, Martling stated, “It was proof that with diligence and a firm voice, a female lawyer could find success.” She went on to say that Justice Ginsburg was “a role model for many female lawyers of [her] generation.”
RBG’s presence on the court gave people a sense of pride. Shayna Klepesch, ‘21, said, “As a jewish woman, RBG’s presence on the Supreme Court … gave me a role model and gave me a feeling of security.” Klepesch explained how she was “in disbelief” when told about RBG’s passing. “I started crying. I felt so helpless and scared that everything she had worked for, my rights, would be taken away.” RBG advocated for gender equality while serving on the Supreme Court, and young women today looked up to her as a hero and, like Martling and Klepesch both said, a true role model.
While most Supreme Court Justices seem closed-off or distant to many people, RBG became somewhat of an icon to those in younger generations. She made it part of her job to seem approachable and make young voices feel heard. She became someone relatable, despite holding such a high place of power in the government, and teenagers loved her for her playful personality. For example, Ginsburg has had multiple memes made about her and her attitude in court. For young people, seeing someone like Ginsburg, a 5’3″ women standing up to all of these powerful people, was inspiring, yes, but also encouraging, exhilarating. There was no one like RBG, an underdog fighting for the underdogs. Her beliefs aligned with much of what “Gen Z” (people born after 1996) believe, and that was shown through her votes while on the bench. Ginsburg voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage across the U.S. in 2015. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, almost half of Gen Z thinks gay marriage is a good thing for society. The same study also states that about 60% of Gen Zers want online forms to include more gender identity options then just “male” and “female.” Much of Justice Ginsburg’s time on the bench was spent fighting for LGBTQ+ rights, which is something truly important to young generations.
The government just confirmed a new nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, to fill Ginsburg’s seat. This goes against the desires of Ginsburg, who, on her deathbed, said “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” While this wish wasn’t granted, Ginsburg’s legacy lives on.