Opinion: Holding on to hope after loss of feminist icon RBG


©WFU/Ken Bennett

Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Visits WFU by WFULawSchool

Claire Williams , Managing Editor

I had just finished dinner with some friends. Walking into my living room, I was on a social high and excited to keep the positivity going for the rest of the night. But then I saw the devastation on my parents’ faces and the television headline announcing the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG).

Friday, Sept. 18 became a night of mourning for my family and many families throughout the United States. We mourned the loss of a feminist icon. We mourned the lawyer who fought against sex discrimination and even founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. We mourned the justice who sparked change through her passionate dissents. We’re still mourning her today.

But layered beneath that grief is anger and fear. Despite the fact that RBG’s “most fervent wish is that [she] will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” President Donald Trump has already announced his plans to push the appointment through “without delay.” RBG’s death presents Trump with his third opportunity to reshape the nation’s court and create a conservative majority that may last for decades. 

All of this comes less than two months from Election Day, further adding to the turmoil. In 2016, the Senate refused to hold a nomination hearing after Justice Scalia’s death in February. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnel said then that since it is an election year, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.” He seems to have completely forgotten this now that RBG’s replacement aligns with the GOP’s goals; he has already announced that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

I find it difficult to have faith in our democracy when politicians change procedures to suit their political party’s agenda. And I’m terrified of all that is at stake based on this one decision: voting rights, reproductive rights, healthcare. I know many in the LT community share my fears. 

Right now, it is so easy to get caught up in anger, and it’s completely valid. However, as mentioned in the biography “Notorious RBG,” Justice Ginsberg would repeat her mother’s advice that “getting angry is a waste of time.” I agree, but with the amendment that it’s a waste of time if we don’t use that anger.

RBG used her anger to incite change even when it seemed that she had lost. For example, in her dissent against the majority in the pay discrimination case of Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, she called upon Congress to act. 

In defeat, she still did not give up hope. Neither can we. We may have lost a warrior, but we still have plenty of battles whose victories are within reach. 

To the Notorious RBG: Rest in Power. You were an inspiration to me and hundreds of thousands of others. I look forward to watching your documentary and rereading your biography. More than anything, I look forward to witnessing the change that you will continue to incite after death.

To those in the LT community who resonate with this article: Don’t give up. Vote. If you can’t vote, fight in whatever way you can, whether that be through social media activism or volunteering with local campaigns. Take the time you need to feel angry, but don’t forget to turn that anger into action.