Ruth Bader Ginsburg And Social Justice

“I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.”~RBG

I lived through the Vietnam War, having been just old enough to watch the evening news as the anchors would speak of the inflated daily number of troop casualties. I watched the related, seemingly daily, protests of this war as well.

I was around for the shooting of students at Kent State (“four dead in O-hi-o”). Be it the 1968 Watts riots, the 92 LA riots, the social tensions of the OJ Simpson trial, the bombing of the twin towers, or several major earthquakes, my 57 years have seen and experienced quite a bit. Perhaps what the physical body loses as one ages is made up for in psychological terms through the vast number of experiences one possesses over their younger counterparts with each passing decade.

Experience means something. As we age, the “been there, done that” events increase while the “I never thought I’d see the day” stuff becomes fewer and farther between. So as I contend that our youth may benefit from those of us who have been around the block a few times, I like to live by the same principle as I look up to my elders.

Enter the 87 year-old Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or as some like to refer to her as “The Notorious R.B.G.” RBG is undoubtedly one of my very few heroes in life. I would argue, strongly argue in fact, that Ginsburg has single-handedly done more for Women’s Right and progress in this country than any other single individual.  Feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, second wavers Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, are often credited with women’s social advancement and have traditionally been considered the face of the movement.

If these women have been considered the face of the women’s movement, Ginsburg is the heart and soul.

Yes, I know it takes a myriad of different voices, strengths and gifts to empower a movement, therefore you might say RBG is the MVP on a really good team. You think the Chicago Bulls would have won 6 championships in 1990s without Michael Jordan? Hard to believe women would enjoy the same status today without the tireless efforts of RBG.

Why? While some have protested and caused waves while making the evening news, Ginsburg was busy changing laws and fighting in court and instituting real change.

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” ~RBG

She was accepted into Harvard Law in 1956 and was one of only 9 women in a class of 500. And though I am oh-so-tempted to begin a litany of all her lifetime of accomplishments in terms of women’s right in this country, do yourself a favor and read up on this absolutely amazing human being. Any 14th amendment related issues in terms of gender discrimination have been fought hard by Ginsburg and nearly all have been won. Agree or disagree with her, and for better or worse, she is a person who has changed every person’s life in this country- every man, woman and child.

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” ~RBG

Wikipedia writes that, “in 2002, Ginsburg was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Ginsburg has been named one of 100 Most Powerful Women (2009), one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year 2012, and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people (2015). She has been awarded honorary Doctor of Laws degrees by Willamette University (2009), Princeton University (2010), and Harvard University (2011).”

Yet these are not the top reasons I absolutely adore and respect “The Notorious R.B.G.” Among the top reasons she has earned my deep respect is her civil and dignified approach to very volatile issues.

“Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.” ~RBG

Her best friend on the Supreme Court, before his passing, was radically conservative justice Antonin Scalia. Ginsburg and Scalia would golf together, do lunch together, and, above all, laugh together. These two human beings were as ideologically far apart as two people could possibly be, yet found a way to go beyond just being able to coexist, they were best friends.

“You can disagree without being disagreeable.” ~RBG

Today we can all learn a life-changing lesson from Ginsburg. A lesson that teaches us that real change is not generated from memes, quippy remarks and snarky social media posts, rather real change is changing the fundamental structure of social policy and law. Additionally, Ginsburg teaches us that we need not be hateful or belligerent in the process. Rather we can be friends and take solace in the understanding of where real change takes place.

So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” ~RBG

Currently the 87 year-old Ginsburg is not in good health but still remains on the SCOTUS.

Perhaps we can all learn a lesson from Ginsburg in today’s rare “I never thought I’d see the day” moments. As one who teaches persuasion, my students know I care very little for the positions one holds and the stances one takes, rather I do care about those stances being articulated with civility while possessing a genuine willingness to listen to others and be open to change.

“Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.” ~RBG

Thank you Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You have taught us that a person may go out on the streets and scream today, yet if it does not change tomorrow, it matters not. All the while sharing my basic philosophy:

“When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out.” ~RBG

Thank you for being an elder I can look up to Justice Ginsburg. We need more of you.










  1. I think that many people need to listen and follow the advice of RBG. I particularly enjoyed reading about her relationship with Justice Scalia and the quote of “you can disagree without being disagreeable.” I believe this is a major problem in today’s world. People are so quick to attack others verbally or physically just because of their stance on an issue. There are many differences in people’s opinions and it is ok. If we all agreed, it would be really boring! Justice Ginsberg, obviously, upholds the Constitution in her daily life and it translates to how she rules on the Supreme Court. Thanks for the informative and enjoyable read.

  2. I agree. We need more of RBG as well as many, many more of people like yourself.

  3. There are very few people I would ever have wanted to give the chance of immortality to but she is definitely in the top of that very short list.
    Her quote; “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” , is probably one of my favorites because if you’re fighting for something you care about, you’ll get farther if you have others join you. You can always start something alone but if you want change to last, other people need to get involved too.

  4. There are very few people I would ever have wanted to give the chance of immortality to but she is definitely in the top of that very short list.
    Her quote; “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” , is probably one of my favorites because if you’re fighting for something you care about, you’ll get farther if you have others join you. You can always start something alone but if you want change to last, other people need to get involved too.

  5. I think this is a great explanatory article, and we need people like this to defend our true justice.She is a great person, and I think she is also changing American history.

  6. Thank you for your great insight into RBG. Like you, I am of a generation that has seen many changes and I have so much respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You included so many of her great quotes. No matter what your age or political persuasion, we can all agree that her words speak wisdom that we all need at this time in history!

  7. I never would have known about Ruth if it was not for your article and I’m pleased I get to know a bit about her. I grew up in a different generation in comparison with you but the similarities of the past and present are nearly identical in some aspects. We can agree that she is a true hero in terms of fighting off discrimination as well as making any changes that need to be addressed. Anyone who is willing to fight discrimination like Ruth is someone I can most definitely look up to as well, thanks for this informative read!

  8. Don’t know how I missed this until today Jimmy but I did. Excellent piece so I reposted on Facebook. Appropriate don’t you think that I should suddenly see it today of all days.

    • Very strange Georgia. Thank you for reposting it. I believe most people saw this coming yet the finality of one’s life is always somewhat of a shock. I realize we are on different ends of the political aisle on some issues, though along with RBG, you are as well a true example of political maturity and not demonizing political foes….all I have is two words: Blue Magnet. Thanks Georgia!

  9. I have a heavy heart reading this today. I hadn’t even noticed it was posted back in August until I reached the end. It’s extremely disheartening and almost haunting that most people could not have a second to mourn because the dread of what will happen because of her absence flooded in so quickly. I’ve seen lots and lots of posts already talking about Roe vs Wade possibly being overturned and it is frightening and amazing that one woman was standing in defense of so many rights, including that historic one. She is a true legend and I hope her legacy keeps strong.

  10. Of all people I think Ruth Ginsburg should have lived forever. I value her amazing effort in the justice reform and her ability to make people want to listen, as she has a earth and ease about her with her work. As the respect for the older population is decreasing (in my opinion), I appreciate the been around the block a few times statement that our youth (all generations as well) could seriously benefit from what she’s done for us as a body of people Especially in women’s rights and to respect what others have seen and been through and mostly helped to create. Her quote “don’t be distracted by emotions like anger,…these waste time,” and “you can agree without being disagreeable,” is wonderful and is so meaningful in the world we live in now as anger has become a fuel for how people react and it’s hard to fine people that don’t respect any disagreement as a whole..even though people have fought for the power of freedom of speech and so on for so many years…where’d all that go? and it’s just disheartening. She was an absolute legend for the people and the world and rights we have today.

  11. I never realized how much I’d miss RBG…. nice article Jimmy!
    The destruction of women’s rights in TX would never have made it this far if she were alive… sad day for all women. Thanks for recognizing RBGs greatness!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *