The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Statement on the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
We are devastated by the colossal loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Yesterday—at the onset of the Jewish New Year—after a long- and hard-fought battle to the bitter end, Justice Ginsburg died at 87 due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Born and raised in a Jewish household in Brooklyn, NY, Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated from Cornell University and Columbia Law School, the latter while juggling the demands of being a wife and a mother during an era when pursuing a career outside the home was a protest against the status quo.
A professor, lawyer, judge, icon, hero, family member, friend—and inspiration—Ruth Bader Ginsburg was so much to so many of us. The gravity of her loss is at once immediately known and impossible to process.
Unable to secure employment after law school, she was welcomed at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, where she taught and co-founded the first women’s law journal in the nation. She went on to become the first Director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project with the focused, unwavering conviction that the 14th Amendment guaranteed equal protection on the basis of sex in addition to race.
After arguing six landmark cases—and winning five—in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, she was appointed to it in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Only the second female justice—and the first Jewish female justice—she served us, guided us, and protected us on the bench for twenty-seven years.
On the walls of Justice Ginsburg’s Supreme Court office hung the words, “justice, justice you shall pursue.” Considered at the core of the Jewish tradition, it was this Torah passage that guided her moral compass. She said, “My heritage as a Jew and my occupation as a judge fit together symmetrically. The demand for justice runs through the entirety of Jewish history and Jewish tradition. I take pride in and draw strength from my heritage.” It’s that same demand that compelled Andrew Goodman to travel to Mississippi in 1964.
Her contributions to the United States and our daily lives—especially women’s—are immeasurable. She shattered the glass ceiling. Known for her fierce, dissenting opinions, Justice Ginsburg was more than a women’s advocate, though. She was also one for voting rights.
In 2013, when the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the preclearance protections of the Voting Rights Act, her dissent was clear and firm. “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
Justice Ginsberg said that the “most disappointing” Supreme Court decision of her career was Citizens United, “because of what happened to elections in the United States and the huge amount of money it takes to run for office.”
In honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the principle of justice that she demanded, we must fix our gaze forward—for survival and truth. We must honor her dying wish to preserve her seat until after the election. We must all register, vote, and demand a fair election so that future generations may thrive, not turn back. For you. For us. For Ruth.