To Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Who Fought “Not for Today, but for Tomorrow”

To Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A "Light" in a "Terrifying Darkness"
Ruth Bader Ginsburg at her Senate confirmation hearing for her appointment to the Supreme Court on July 20, 1993. (Wikimedia Commons)

Like you, late on Friday, we heard the terrible news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, the “Great Dissenter,” and a true champion for justice and equality—had died

As the world mourns this immense loss, it is hard to put into words just how much RBG did to advance women’s equality and make this country a better place. But we will say this: We will fight like hell to honor her work and her memory. 

Let us let her words guide us as we head into this election season. May her memory be a blessing.

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

“When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

“Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” 

“I wish there was a way I could wave a magic wand and put back when people were respectful of each other and the Congress was working for the good of the country and not just along party lines. Someday there will be great people, great elected representatives who will say, ‘enough of this nonsense, let’s be the kind of legislature the United States should have.’ I hope that day will come when I’m still alive.” 

A classmate recalled he and his friends had known Justice Ginsburg “by her law school nickname, ‘Bitch.’” RBG’s reply:

“Better bitch than mouse.”

“I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill—very much like a plumber. But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you.”

To Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A "Light" in a "Terrifying Darkness"
Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Senate confirmation hearing for her appointment to the Supreme Court on July 21, 1993. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched. 

“While there is much light in today’s world, there remains in our universe disheartening darkness, inhumanity spawned by ignorance and hate. … The Passover story recalls to all of us—women and men—that with vision and action, we can join hands with others of like mind, kindling lights along paths leading out of the terrifying darkness.

“It was my great good fortune to have the opportunity to participate in the long effort to place equal citizenship stature for women on the basic human rights agenda. In that regard, I was scarcely an innovator.”

“The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.”

“Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.’ But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.”

“[I would like to be remembered as] someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability, and to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something, as my colleague David Souter would say, outside myself. ‘Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid.”

“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” 

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Oliver C. Haug contributed to this report. 

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