The Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Story:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a frequent and eloquent dissenter from many of the decisions of the Supreme Court in recent years, and the lioness of the always-controversial Roe v. Wade (1973) precedent on abortion rights, died on September 18, 2020 of complications from pancreatic cancer.


Ginsburg was appointed to the Court by President Bill Clinton back on June 14, 1993. She was the second woman Justice (the first, Sandra Day O’Connor, was still then on the bench). She was the first Jewish Justice since the retirement of Abe Fortas twenty-four years before.

During her confirmation hearing, Ginsburg was unexpectedly forthright in her support for the Roe precedent. Nominees usually do not speak to cases that may come before them, and they can easily interpret that traditional broadly, avoiding the discussion of controversial decisions that they might be asked to overturn. But she was forthright.

“It is essential to woman’s equality with man that she be the decisionmaker [on matters concerning her body], that her choice be controlling,” Ginsburg told Senators during her four days of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Thing to Know:

Decisions to be made in the days to come, by President Trump and by members of the Senate, shall have a lot to do with whether Ginsburg’s legacy, especially on the matter of reproductive rights, will be a lasting one.

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