Although I disagreed with much of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s judicial philosophy, there are few people I respect and admire more than the notorious RBG. As a Republican, I take a much different approach to the Constitution and how it should be interpreted. Nonetheless, on Sept. 18, we lost a woman of considerable stature. The country mourns this loss, Republicans and Democrats alike. Now is the time to put party politics aside and come together as a nation to celebrate the life of an astounding individual.
Ginsburg lived a life worthy of celebration. While serving on the Supreme Court was arguably her most significant accomplishment, it was far from her only one. Some of her academic achievements include graduating first in her class from Cornell during her time as an undergrad. She then attended Harvard Law School, where she became the first female editor of the Harvard Law Review. She then transferred to Columbia Law School to be with her husband, where she was elected to be on the school’s law review and went on to graduate first in her class there, too. She accomplished this all while parenting a young daughter and looking after her husband who was battling cancer. It is worth noting that this was all achieved when the country still treated women as second class citizens.
Her academic triumphs were just the beginning. Despite her stellar academic record, no New York Law firm would hire her, solely because she was a woman. This situation led to continued life in academia, as she went on to be a professor at Rutgers University Law School. After that, she became the first female law professor at Columbia Law School to receive tenure. While she was a professor, she was also the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. In this role, she argued before the Supreme Court six times, where she won five. Little did she know that one day she would be on the other side of the bench.
In true Ginsburg fashion, she continued to make history. She did this by serving as the second female justice and first Jewish female justice when former President Bill Clinton nominated her to the bench. Ginsburg has a long list of accomplishments while serving on the liberal bloc as a fierce advocate for women’s and LGBTQ rights. However, most of my admiration for RBG stems from her life off the bench.
If you want to find a Supreme Court Justice with starkly opposing views of the law than RBG, then look no further than Justice Antonin Scalia. Ginsburg, a justice who interpreted the Constitution as a living document, a liberal viewpoint, was dear friends with Scalia, a conservative icon. Regardless of their drastic differences when it came to interpreting the law, they were great friends. Their families spent New Years’ Eve together for years. They would antique together on vacations, shared love for the opera and even rode an elephant together. Their relationship was such an amazing example of friendship that it inspired the making of an opera.
In today’s political climate, a public friendship like Ginsburg and Scalia’s sounds like something out of a fairy tale. To think two people with extreme differences such as they had could do something as simple as have lunch together is unimaginable. If we could all act a little more like these two great justices, we would all be better for it.
Ginsburg was brilliant, fearless and nothing short of an icon. She was a legal giant on the bench. She kept attorneys on their toes and the rest of the country on the edge of their seats with each decision she made — all while sporting her iconic collars, of course.
With all the madness that has occurred in 2020 and all the losses the country has experienced, the passing of RBG was a blow unlike anything else. However, I can’t help but think how lucky we are that fate gave us the gift of RBG and the legacy she left behind. We all owe her a great deal.
The tragic passing of this icon leaves me left with one final word: Here.
Sam Somogye is a political science senior and opinion writer for The Battalion.