Remembering an Icon

Ruth Bader Ginsburg crafted a revolution through the Courts that changed gender relations on a global scale.

Ginsburg’s work created ripple effects across the world, inspiring activists and action in the fight for gender relations far beyond the U.S. She was a world-wide icon for dignity, justice, and equality.

Ginsburg was an icon for all of us who work at the ACLU as well. Her words still guide us today, "Women's rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy." 

Before serving on the highest court, Ginsburg rose to prominence as an ACLU lawyer fighting for equal rights. She founded the Women's Rights Project in 1972 and led the ACLU in critical legal battles for almost a decade after.

Ginsburg led the ACLU in a host of important legal battles that established the foundation for the current legal prohibitions against sex discrimination in this country and helped lay the groundwork for future women's rights advocates.

At the time, most legal scholars believed the law should treat women differently. While some lawyers were taking on cases to protect individual women, Ginsburg aimed to change the law on gender equality entirely.

She argued her first Supreme Court case challenging gender-based discrimination in 1973 – in front of a court that only had male justices. "I knew that I was speaking to men who didn't think there was any such thing as gender-based discrimination and my job was to tell them it really exists," she said.

Ginsburg succeeded, winning that case and five of the six cases she argued before the Supreme Court. Her approach to dismantling discrimination on the basis of sex was calculated. Her strategy was absolutely brilliant.

Soon after leaving the ACLU, Ginsburg was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Carter. And, in 1993, she became the second woman to be a Justice on the Supreme Court where she carried on her voracious appetite for good.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves behind a legacy that built a new framework for equality in this country. As we mourn her loss, let's also honor her fight, strength, and determination to ensure that "We the People" means all of us.

She leaves a country changed because of her life’s work.