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19th Sep 2020

A legend of change, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies, aged 87

Conan Doherty

“In my lifetime, I expect to see three, four, perhaps even more women on the High Court bench. Women not shaped from the same mould, but of different complexions.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that even before she was the second female on the Supreme Court.

She was a woman who was somehow more than a pioneer and an inspiration. She wasn’t a dreamer, she was a visionary.

She always saw a better world and she devoted her life’s work to help make it a reality.

At the age of 87, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at her home in Washington DC, surrounded by family, but she leaves behind a legacy that has touched every corner of the world.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

For every tangible piece of difference she forced in her battle for gender equality in the courts, her actions and words and stoic defiance spread – and continues to spread – indirect moments of change in other people’s lives in different countries.

For every fight she put up for racial and social justice, her calm, direct, authoritative passion lifted the lid for more.

Like little ripples in a pond, the brilliant work and good intentions that Ruth Bader Ginsburg relentlessly poured into her efforts will continue to move through the world long after her stunning life’s work has been completed.


The daughter of both Ukranian and Austrian parents, Bader Ginsburg always saw the American dream with clear eyes.

“What is the difference between a bookkeeper and a Supreme Court Justice?” she once pondered.

“One generation. My own life bears witness.”

The difference in opportunity that she got and made the most of was in stark contrast to what her parents were afforded as immigrants. And she never took that for granted.

In 1993, after impactful work with the Appeals Court, President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court, where she would become the second woman in history on the bench.

There, her influence was such that two films were made of her in 2018.

RBG, the documentary was released in May of that year, a fitting name for the scathing chop-buster who was gaining fame and adoration amongst a new, younger audience for her articulation of social issues and, in particular, her glorious denouncement of the rejection of the Voting Rights Act.

Notorious RBG, they called her.

In the same year, in 2018, the feature film On the Basis of Sex was released, another homage to a global treasure.

And true to her grit, RBG fought off cancer for 21 years.

In 1999, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. In 2009, pancreatic cancer. In 2019, she had surgery for lung cancer and, before that, heart surgery. Bader Ginsburg gave those illnesses the fight of their lives, the only way she knew how to do it.

And at 87, she leaves a life’s work that 100 of the greatest people would be proud to own cumulatively. More than that, she leaves hope for a better tomorrow. And she leaves a trail for more brilliant women to follow and change the world.

Just like she did.

“I ask no favour for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

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