” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Angel of Justice ” – September 23, 2020.

          “The Hall and the arena will be reverberated with chants of  ” RBG “,  “RBG”  whenever she steps on the stage and starts to speak. The entire crowd will sport T-shirts with her face and the three letters imprinted in a proud manner making a lasting impact. The Documentary Film about her is the latest craze on NETFLIX sweeping across the nation. At least 20000 people gather in any event when she makes her appearance.”

          RBG was not a famous film actress ;  RBG was not a famous politician ;  she was the famed American Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She will fit well as an ideal Justice in anyone’s metaphorical description of her personality. The news of her passing away on Friday last is like the loss of a long shining star in the galaxy of American Universe.

          60 years back she filled her application for the position of a law clerk in American High Court. Her application was rejected on the grounds of her being a woman. A law clerk essentially does research into the details of a case and presents the same to the judges to help frame their judgements. Those who served as law clerks have risen to the positions of Supreme Court Justices in the past. RBG also became the second woman to hold the position of Supreme Court Justice.

          American Supreme Court has a strength of 9 Justices. They will discuss the cases with full attendance all times, unlike in our case,  where 2 or 3 members can also hold a sitting to discuss the cases. The Supreme Court Justices in U.S.A.  are appointed for life without retirement. If we had a Justice like RBG it will only be right to pray God that she has got the gift of immortality.

          When she was once asked as to, ” how many women should be ideal for the SC “,  she replied :  ” it will be fitting if all nine are women “. Her answer made the reported shaking.

          ” How can that be alright ? ” – when another reporter asked, she again replied : ” For decades all nine Justices were men and didn’t that seem alright ?”. Well known for her open and frank speeches and answers.

          She fought for Gender Equality till her death. Her favorite call has always been : ” I do not seek any special favour for women. I only ask you to take your legs off our voice box ( neck ). That is enough.”  She was just 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. But her personality soared sky high.

          She was already married with one child by the time she completed her studies in Law. She faced innumerable difficulties in securing a job. Reasons :  She was a woman ;  she was a Jew ;  and she was married. Her life was not a bed of roses all the way. It was rough and gnarled too. Without compromising her policies and principles, and remaining completely true to the American Constitution, she raised her voice against discrimination and fought for the rights of blacks and women who were suppressed and sidelined.

          She married Martin D Ginsburg in 1954 and lived a mutually happy life till his death in 2010.

          Unlike in our case, Supreme Court Justices do not have servants allotted for housekeeping jobs. Be it cooking, or any small cleaning job …  they did it themselves. Her husband participated in all activities with full support and engagement. ” He felt that my work is as important if not more than his work, and duly performed all chores with pleasure “,  she said. To have a husband like him in life was in itself a gift – she added.

          When her mother-in-law asked her what were the reasons for the success of their marriage, she said humbly : ” you have to be deaf at times “. She has followed this tenet not just in her family life of 56 years but also in her professional career as Supreme Court Justice.

          RBG suffered from Cancer. It affected her large intestines ; pancreas ; and even lungs. But without flinching for a moment she rose to the challenges of the tasks and performed her duties with vigour. It marked her career success.

          On an occasion her husband remarked : ” Ruth ! You look like a person who has come out of a Concentration Camp. To safeguard your health you need to do something “,  and soon appointed a workout trainer for action. She also willingly underwent the exercise regimen prescribed including weightlifting. It became so popular at that time to induce many to take to the practices of workout in life. A real harbinger.

          Striking a balance between home and work is like a ‘bamboo dance’ in life. When RBG was pregnant, her husband left for compulsory military work. RBG at that time was also seeking admission in Law College. She had doubts if she can really secure a seat. Her father-in-law said in confident and comforting words : ” Ruth, at this juncture it will only be understandable if you miss the law education. Nobody will regard that as a failure. But, if you are serious about pursuing a course in Law, dispel all thoughts and worries about your present condition and seek to focus your attention on how both can be managed.” Words of wisdom, support, courage, and hope. She immediately consulted her husband ; pursued her course in Law ;  and came out  ‘First’  in the group.

          RBG came from an ordinary family. Affording college education itself was viewed as an accomplishment. And she accomplished it with highest rank. And she dedicated her success at her mother’s feet. She also recalled her mother’s words of wisdom and counsel : ” Do not waste your time on emotions as anger, hate, sadness, and jealousy. They will consume your time easily. They won’t take you where you want to go. Focus your attention on what and where you want to go and concentrate “. Mother First.

          RBG’s judgements will always be reflective of courage and clarity. In the case of  “Bush v. Gore” in 2000, Florida District Court delivered the judgement that favoured recounting of the votes. George W Bush went to the Supreme Court on appeal. Five judges were in support of George W Bush and four against. One of the four was RBG. She wrote : ” the majority judgement is against the basic principles of Law. I dissent “.  George W Bush, however, became President. It was 5 – 4 in his favour.

          RBG’s judgement in the US  v. Virginia Military case (1996) while attracting the attention of all citizens also garnered great appreciation. This case pertained to an institution/structure that permitted only males. It was in existence for years. RBG wrote the majority opinion : ” Holding the general notion that women can only do this ; or women will be like this only ; disapproving the highly capable and talented women is unacceptable and untenable”. It ended the Virginia Military Institute’s archaic men only admission policy. It was a 7 to 1 ruling.

          RBG’s judgement in the Olmstead v. LC (1999) Rights of Disabilities : SC ruling in this case marked a big win for the rights of people with disabilities. RBG stated that under the Americans for Disabilities Act, people must be placed in community settings rather than in institutions based on the advice of health professionals. 

          Ledbetter  v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.(2007) : Addressing the wage gap :  RBG delivered a dissent in support of equal wage and called on the Congress to take action, which ultimately led to the passing of the Lilly Led better Fair Play Act, signed by President, Barack Obama, in 2009. RBG’s farsightedness ;  human rights related equality ;  and her strong stand on justice without any deviation – are what this judgement represents.

          RBG’s impartial stance was reflected in Weinberger  v.  Wieserfeld  case. It held that gender based distinction under 42 U.S.C. No. 402 (g) of the Social Security Act of 1935 – which permitted widows but not widowers to collect special benefits while caring for minor children – violated the right to equal protection served by the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution.

          The list will go on. The ‘rocket star’ status she attained was due to her proud judgements, fairness, purity of actions,  hard work, focused thoughts and unflinching decisions – recognised as being extremely beneficial to the people.

          The three letters,  “RBG” ,  has earned a permanent place in the history of American Justice. Everyone shall bow his/her head to the  ” Angel of Justice”.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Wednesday, September 23, 2020 – 12.59 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ”  True justice is paying only once for each mistake. True injustice is paying more than once for each mistake. ”  –  Miguel Angel Ruiz.

 

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