Students React to the Death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Karenna Keane

A memorial to Justice Ginsburg promises to honor her work. Justice Ginsburg passed away just recently; her actions on the court touched the lives of many students.

Senior Alana McBride has a book of every dissent written by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and has read them all. McBride also named a stuffed bird Ruth Bader Ginsbird, and has multiple pins and T-shirts representing the late justice. When Justice Ginsburg died, on September 18, 2020, McBride, who had hardly left the house since March, immediately headed to the Supreme Court to mourn in solidarity with others.

“She meant so much to me that I was, like, ‘I need to go and collectively mourn.’” McBride said. “I wrote a letter and I put it next to the steps of the Supreme Court.”

Justice Ginsburg touched many lives through dissents in court as well as her work for gender equality. Through this work and other aspects of her life, including her workout routines, she became an icon and took on the nickname “Notorious RBG.”

“She taught me that my voice doesn’t really mean anything if I only use it when someone asks to hear it,” sophomore Charlotte Lawson said. “[Justice Ginsburg] was making such a big impact by speaking when it seemed kind of unnecessary, because her voice was being discounted anyways and she was a part of the minority vote.”

Justice Ginsburg was a wife, mother and friend to even those she disagreed with, such as the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She had a lengthy career in public service and served the last 27 years of her life on the bench. 

“She did so much for women’s rights, and for, really, everyone’s rights once she got on the Supreme Court,” junior Abigail Whiting said.

Justice Ginsburg battled cancer multiple times throughout her life, and it was ultimately what she died of. Throughout her battle she missed only a few days on the court.

“[Ginsburg was] in her 80s, in the hospital, and she [was] just going to work.” McBride said. “There are kids who get a cold and they’re like, ‘Okay, I can’t do any work in the next week.’ [But Ginsburg would say] ‘Oh, I’m having surgery, I’ll be back in the next hour!’”

Before being appointed to the court, after having faced gender discrimination throughout her education and career, Gisburg co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project. This project works to increase gender equality by appealing to the courts and encouraging them to utilize the Constitution in order to eliminate barriers.

“When [Ginsburg] was an attorney at the ACLU, she worked so hard on women’s rights,” McBride said. “Women could not buy a house without their husband, they couldn’t get a credit card, there are so many little things that most women now take for granted.” 

This year, an ACLU club started at the school. Founded by Lawson and sophomore Kaitlyn Cooper, this club was started largely thanks to the work of Justice Ginsburg.

“Her connections with the ACLU and her involvement with them, not just got me interested in [the ACLU] but in legislation and how legislation could cause change,” Lawson said.

Following Justice Ginsburg’s death, Justice Amy Coney Barrett was quickly appointed to the court in replacement. She was nominated by President Donald Trump, confirmed by the Republican majority Senate, and is known for her conservative beliefs.

“I think that Amy Coney Barrett especially seems like a particularly harsh choice [to replace Justice Ginsburg],” Lawson said. “Especially since she’s somebody who’s known for her pro-life position and Ruth Bader Ginsburg was obviously opposed to that.” 

Despite moving on with a new justice, many students hope to see Justice Ginsburg’s memory live on as well as her approach to justice continuing to be utilized for those seeking out change.

“I think she definitely should be a role model, not just for feminists but anyone involved in social justice,” Lawson said. “Her approach to women’s oppression, I think, can be carried out through all aspects of the law.”

Within their own families as well, students plan to keep the memory of Justice Ginsburg alive.

“When the time comes that you’re educating the next generation, I will definitely talk about Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Whiting said. “As an inspiration to, you know, my younger cousins and stuff like that.”

Overall, Justice Ginsburg has served as a role model for many students and has impacted many aspects of their lives.

“I am trying to,” McBride said. “I know I will never be able to match the grandness that Notorious RBG was, but I’m trying to do just the tiniest bit of work to make sure that her legacy stays intact.”