By Olivia Bousquet
No one thought 2020 could get any worse, but then Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Sept. 18 at the age of 87 after complications from cancer.
The cultural and feminist icon served on the Supreme Court for 27 years with a blazing confidence dressed in judicial robes. She fought for women’s rights and served as a role model for young women. However, her death should not leave minority groups worrying about potentially losing rights after President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett.
Before becoming the second female justice on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg enrolled into Harvard Law in 1956. Her husband, Martin, was diagnosed with testicular cancer soon into her graduate studies, yet she managed to balance taking care of him while excelling in school. During the 1970s, Ginsburg served as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and by 1980, she was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
She’s an inspiration to women — that even during a time of oppression, hardwork and dedication will not stop a woman from accomplishing her dreams. In 1996, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in the United States v. Virginia case, which overturned the Virginia Military Institutes decision to bar women from enrolling into the school.
Throughout her years as Justice, Ginsburg served as a voice for progress in the United States. In 1999, Ginsburg helped give victory to the rights of people with disabilities. States were required to have people with mental disabilities live in community settings, not in institutions. She dissented from the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. case in 2007, which made it more difficult for an employee to sue an employer for wage discrimination. The 5-4 vote claimed Ledbetter’s charge for gender discrimination was time-barred, which would have required Ledbetter to file a complaint with 180 days. In 2015, Ginsburg helped legalize same-sex marriage throughout the United States.
Ginsburg saw the unjust treatment of people and used her position in the Supreme Court to give minorities and women rights to live equally among those blessed with privilege.
But all her monumental progress could be threatened by a conservative Supreme Court with Barrett taking her place.
Barrett has openly expressed her conversative values through her voting records on immigration, discrimination and abortion issues. Barrett spoke several times at the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a conservative training program for Chrisitan lawyers. The program was established to promote Chrisitan worldviews in every area of law. Her strong religious views are hard to ignore, especially in a country that supposedly values separation of church and state. Controverial topics like abortion and same-sex marriage rights could be attacked with a conservative-leaning court. If rights start being revoked, how far would they be willing to regress?
“I don’t think that Ginsburg would, kind of by default on the basis of gender, say that Amy Coney Barrett would kind of be a successor to her legacy in any way,” SUNY Plattsburgh political science professor John McHahon said. “I think that Ginsburg would be more concerned with kind of the substance of Barrett’s academic legal writing.”
It’s important for people to step back and understand why Barrett’s potential position in the Supreme Court is terrifying. Supreme Court Justices serve for a lifetime, meaning they do not need to rerun for their position and can serve until they die. If 48-year oldBarrett is elected into the Supreme Court, a change in power to a conservative-leaning Supreme Court can be harmful to minorities and their future in the United States.
So, check your privilege.
Because watching a government decide the rights you can and cannot have is stressful. It is demeaning, as a human being, to be seen lesser than others for factors outside of your control.
Race, sex, class or sexual orientation is not something you choose. But, apparently, it is something you can lose rights over.
The General Election, Nov. 3, has more weight than ever. Voters aren’t just voting on a president, but on how the entire government leans in moral values. Before Ginsburg died, her wish was to have her democratic seat filled after the election. She understood the high stakes at hand.
Remember the wisdom Ginsburg bestowed when she said:
“Justices continue to think and can change. I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.”