Yahairah Aristy: Today we celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy. Tomorrow we fight like hell to protect it. | #students | #parents

Deafening silence. Paralyzing stillness. Dizzying circles. Rivers of tears. Crippling cear. I experienced all of these when news broke that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18. Yet we remembered when she said, “fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you,” and so we will persist in her fight for equality for all and preservation of women’s rights.

With Justice Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, Lawyers Club of San Diego found deep security because she was vigilant in safeguarding equal protection of the sexes and a woman’s right to choose. She was a pioneer who advanced the status of women in the law and society, whether she was a wife, mother, law student, law professor, attorney, court of appeal judge and, ultimately, the second female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Simply put, Justice Ginsburg was the epitome of our mission to advance the status of women in the law and society. She fought tirelessly for her place in history, and we are all better because of her fight and perseverance.

As a woman and a person of the Jewish faith, Justice Ginsburg was denied employment by employers who refused to hire her despite her stellar law school accomplishments including serving as the first female member of the Harvard Law Review, and, after she transferred to Columbia Law School, serving on its law review and graduating first in her class. Nevertheless, Justice Ginsburg did not relent. Instead, she persisted until she finally broke through the barriers to work in her chosen profession. She was resolute in her pursuit of the professional and intellectually challenging life she wanted.

Justice Ginsburg had an exemplary legal career that burst open doors of opportunity for many. She became the first female professor to earn tenure at Columbia Law School. She launched the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. On behalf of the ACLU, she argued six landmark cases before the Supreme Court and won five of those cases.

She argued against automatic exemptions from jury service that resulted in a paucity of women serving on jury trials. She argued for the rights of widowers and husbands to receive Social Security benefits. She argued for the right of female military personnel to have their husbands qualify for military spousal dependency based on their wives’ military service. Justice Ginsburg’s genius was in arguing against laws that appeared to favor women over men to fight against gender inequity. She used this brilliant strategy to convince all-male judicial panels to consider the concept of gender-blind law.

She became known as the “Notorious RBG” for her powerful dissents. She wrote a sharp dissent criticizing the suspension of the counting of disputed ballots in the state of Florida in the 2000 presidential election. She unapologetically dissented in any opinion that sought to limit the abortion rights protections of Roe v. Wade or that allowed gender discrimination.

As Lawyers Club members, we have benefited from the life, work, and example of Justice Ginsburg. We have benefited from her relentless devotion to the American creed enshrined in the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Justice Ginsburg fought to prevent the government from denying “any person” equal protection under the law. She did so until her last breath, having become an icon and role model to many.

Lawyers Club is committed to preserving Justice Ginsburg’s legacy and persisting in her fight for women’s equality.

Today we celebrate her legacy, and tomorrow we fight like hell to protect it.

Aristy is president of Lawyers Club of San Diego and lives in La Mesa.


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