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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

Remembering RBG

Wofford%E2%80%99s+flag+behind+Old+Main+at+half+staff+in+remembrance+of+the+nation%E2%80%99s+second+female+Supreme+Court+judge.
Wofford’s flag behind Old Main at half staff in remembrance of the nation’s second female Supreme Court judge.

Reflecting on the life of a public servant and moving forward with action

Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Sept. 18, 2020, leaving behind a legacy that consistently highlighted the immense power held in being a woman in a world that was working against her more often than not. Her roles as mother, wife, professor and ultimately Supreme Court judge allowed her to become an inspiration for many as she loved, taught and served this nation. Regardless of political parties, here are some indisputable facts about the woman who served for 27 years on the United States’ highest court of law.

Ginsburg graduated from Cornell University in 1954, finishing first in her class. She continued to excel academically, eventually becoming the first female member of the prestigious legal journal, the Harvard Law Review.

She clerked for U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri, and then she taught at both Rutgers University Law School (1963-72) and Columbia (1972-80), where she became the school’s first female tenured professor. Ginsburg became the court’s second female justice as well as the first Jewish female justice.

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This is not to say that Ginsburg went throughout life without heartache. Despite her obvious achievements she was discriminated against based on her gender and had to continuously go above and beyond to find her place in her field.

She raised her first child, Jane, while her husband, Martin, was drafted in 1954. Martin also contracted testicular cancer in 1956, requiring intensive treatment and rehabilitation.

Ginsburg continued to raise her child and attend to her husband, taking notes for him in classes while she continued her own law studies. Her strength through these seasons of her life is one of many things that allowed her to become the female icon she grew to be.

This is also not to say that she went through her career without criticism from all sides. In fact, many take significant issue with her lack of advocacy for indigenous people and other people of color.

Ginsburg notably cosigned the construction of a 600 mile pipeline for natural gas under the Appalachian trail. These pipelines can be considered a threat to Indigenous women because they often bring sexual violence due to the increase of male workers in those areas.

Her monumental firsts as a woman are not up for debate.

The validity of that danger on the part of those indigenous women is also not up for debate.

Not here.

The nation gets closer every day to an incredibly formative election in November, and this tension between progressive icons of the past like Ginsburg and the current administration is palpable. As reported by Politico, the president and First Lady of the United States were met with chants of “vote him out” as they paid their respects to the late Supreme Court justice on Sept. 24. His intention to appoint Ginsburg’s replacement leaves much of the nation feeling anxious for what is to become of Ginsburg’s formative rulings.

So that leaves us at a crossroads. Do we convict Ginsburg for her failure to include all women in her fight for equality? Do we entirely discount her legacy and the changes she has made for equal rights? Do we snark at the notion that she was a force in this nation? Do we then decide that those who have consistently fought against her progressive rulings (including our current president) are without failure and they are entirely perfect? Do we lose even more decorum when it comes to the discussion of politics in this country?

No. Idolizing or vilifying any singular person or public servant (on either side of the aisle) is an unsustainable kind of admiration that will surely not improve the state of our country when it so desperately needs improvement. There is, however, tangible action moving forward.

We vote. Vote even if it takes 5 extra minutes in your day to register or fill out your absentee ballot. Vote, because, for many students on Wofford’s campus, this will be your first time voting in an election, and what a privilege that is.

Vote based on fact and not fanfare. Vote if you’re a woman who is able to have a credit card independent of the men in your life thanks to RBG. Vote, if only, to use the voice that RBG and countless other renowned people have fought to give you.

Even if you didn’t care about RBG in the slightest, still vote. Just vote.

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