Following Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death on the evening of Friday, Sept. 18, many have paid tribute to the legal mind who trailblazed a path for women's rights. Citizens, celebrities, and politicians alike are remembering the impact the feminist icon had on life in the United States, including Barack Obama. A touching tribute to her enduring legacy, Barack Obama's statement on Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death is a must-read.
Following the news of Ginsburg's death, Obama posted a statement on Medium, hailing the woman who fought for a place in law during a time when the field was overwhelmingly male-dominated. In 1993, Ginsburg would become a Supreme Court Justice at the age of 60 upon nomination from President Bill Clinton. Obama went into great detail to honor the late Justice and her contributions to America.
"Sixty years ago, Ruth Bader Ginsburg applied to be a Supreme Court clerk. She’d studied at two of our finest law schools and had ringing recommendations. But because she was a woman, she was rejected," he wrote. "Ten years later, she sent her first brief to the Supreme Court — which led it to strike down a state law based on gender discrimination for the first time," Obama continued. "For nearly three decades, as the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality — someone who believed that equal justice under law only had meaning if it applied to every single American," he said.
"Over a long career on both sides of the bench — as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist — Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality," said Obama. "That it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are — and who we can be."
Obama also commented on Ginsburg's power to inspire. "Justice Ginsburg inspired the generations who followed her, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land." He continued, "Michelle and I admired her greatly, we’re profoundly thankful for the legacy she left this country, and we offer our gratitude and our condolences to her children and grandchildren tonight."
As he continued to honor her memory, he asked readers to remember her for her power to fight. "Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored," wrote Obama.
"Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in," he said.
"A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment," he wrote. "The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle. As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard," said Obama.
Obama concluded his statement with a powerful reminder, writing, "The questions before the Court now and in the coming years — with decisions that will determine whether or not our economy is fair, our society is just, women are treated equally, our planet survives, and our democracy endures — are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process."
Obama's final comment brings up the timing of Justice Ginsburg's death, just months before the 2020 presidential election. With the Supreme Court seat now open, some fear President Donald Trump will choose to nominate a replacement quickly, despite the 2016 refusal from Senate Republicans to vote on a Justice during an election year when President Obama's term was nearing its end.
Only time will tell what will occur in the Supreme Court matters, but Ginsburg's legacy is an important one, and her memory should remain an inspiration for Americans moving forward.