US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Columbia academic regalia, 1959 (image: WikiCommons)

by Megan Stevens

It was June 14th 1993 when Ruth Bader Ginsburg got the call that her whole career had been leading to. On August 3rd it was confirmed Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second women after Sandra Day O’Connor to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. By serving Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed the course of history through the justice system and that’s why she is my idol. 

Ruth was born on the 15th March 1933 in Brooklyn and sadly passed away on September 18th 2020 but her legacy will be passed down through generations. She had a very hard childhood with her sister passing when Ruth was a baby and her mum passing just before Ruth graduated high school but during these hard times, she still managed to earn her bachelor’s degree in Art at Cornell. Shortly after becoming a mother herself, Ruth enrolled at Harvard Law School. She was just one of nine women in a class of five hundred men.  Despite the setbacks of growing up in a more deprived area of Brooklyn and constantly being looked down upon for being a young mum, Ruth graduated and taught at Rutger’s Law School before going on to become the first female, tenured professor at Columbia University. 

Ruth fought for gender equality, women’s rights and for people with learning difficulties. She appeared in front of the Supreme Court six times where she fought for these issues as an attorney (key cases, among many, were Califano vs Goldfarb (1977) and Duren vs Missouri (1979)). One of her biggest wins was the Obergefell vs Hodges (2015) case where she helped to secure the granting of same-sex marriage which was significant as it granted more people marital rights, leading to a shift in society surrounding same-sex couples. Alongside this she heavily weighed in on the Endrew F case (2017) which fought for equal education for children with disabilities. 

Ruth is such an inspiration to me as someone who wishes to become a lawyer herself. Her ideals and attitudes towards changing the judicial system and fighting for gender equality is truly inspiring. She helped to abolish the ‘‘ld white rich man’ stereotype which is associated with lawyers and she showed that anyone can achieve their dreams if they put in the hard work. This is really motivating for people, no matter their chosen career path. Her importance also lies in her ideals surrounding children with learning difficulties and how she dedicated so much time to fight for them. I struggle with dyslexia and never thought I would even be able to pass history GCSE however I put in the hard work and gained that GCSE. Now history is my favourite subject and I decided to further my understanding of the subject by studying it at A level. I would love to use my experiences to help others via the law profession, just like Ruth.