On September 18, 2020, we said goodbye to pop culture icon and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “the Notorious RBG” who died from complications with metastatic pancreatic cancer.
RBG will be remembered for her incredible legal career and impact on gender equality. She took on discriminatory practices that held back women from their full potential in the mid to late 90s and won several arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. She was appointed as the second woman associate justice to the supreme court in 1993. In her 27 years on the court, she inspired millions of people with her advocacy, strongly worded dissents, and a supreme sense of style and neck collars.
In honor of RBG’s legacy, we are sharing a few key supreme court rulings that are important to know and had impacted sex, gender, and health for many Americans.
United States v. Virginia (1996)
The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is the oldest military college whose main purpose is to prepare young people for a career in the military. For 157 years the VMI excluded women. The 7-1 decision held that the VMI male-only admissions policy was unconstitutional and violated women’s equal rights. In her decision, “‘Inherent differences’ between men and women, we have come to appreciate, remain a cause for celebration, but not for the denigration of the members of either sex or artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity.”
Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007)
The court ruled 5-4 in favor of Goodyear, an employer who was being sued by Lilly Ledbetter for pay discrimination. Ledbetter worked at Goodyear for 19 years and had learned she was paid far less than her male coworkers. Disagreeing with the majority vote, RBG used her voice to deliver a powerful dissent that later changed the course of history. “The Court does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination," and encouraged Congress to act, which they eventually did. When President Obama took office in 2009, the first bill he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)
The outcome of this supreme court ruling was a landmark case for LGBTQ+ rights. The decision ruled that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. Her vote helped overturn the ban, “We have changed our idea about marriage ... Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition.”
Thank you RBG. We will miss you!