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Justice Ginsburg Taught Me To Use My Voice. Today, I Thank Her.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Words can’t begin to describe the power I felt in me whenever anyone even uttered that name. I fell in love with Ruth Bader Ginsburg when I was just nine years old. Now, only eight years later, I can’t believe she’s already gone. 2020 has taken many influential figures from me, from all of us. But, for me, this loss hurts the most. 

When I was nine years old and had first discovered the power of Democracy through elementary school textbooks, I decided that I wanted to help further that tradition in my own lifetime. One of the first women I was introduced to through my reading was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a justice whose contributions to women’s rights and equality were so influential. Reading about her made me so appreciative of all these rights I took for granted, things that, without her, probably weren’t possible. 

When a younger version of myself decided I would be a lawyer, Ginsburg was one of the women I started to read more and more about. I admired her for her wit and intelligence. Ginsburg was one of only a few women who graduated law school back in her day, and she did so at the top of her class at Columbia Law School. I admired her strength to stand up to men. Her notable work in the United States v. Virginia, where she fought for women to be allowed to apply and attend an all-male boarding school, allows me to go on and apply for colleges that just decades ago, I would’ve been barred from attending. Her ruling in Roe v. Wade allows me to have control over my own body. With her persuasion on LGBTQ+ rights in the United States, Ginsburg allowed my friends to choose who they loved. Her monumental work in persuasion and her tireless effort to always strive for justice motivated me to put my all into my own work. 

For me, supporting Ruth Bader Ginsburg was never political. Whether you are Conservative or Liberal, or in the muddy grey waters in between, you can admit that Ginsburg was a champion for social rights and equality. Her passionate convictions, dissents, and rulings moved colleagues from across the divide to join her. She always fought for the minority, for the oppressed, for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. 

The Notorious RBG. In my mind, she was always immortal. She was a constant presence. When bad things would happen in the world, my friends and I would always think of happy things. RBG being around was always towards the top of the list. Her famous quote, “there will be enough women on the Supreme Court when there are nine,” still hangs right in front of my desk. 

Like many of my sisters, I looked to Ginsburg for safety. She was always there, serving as not only a justice but also a beacon of hope, someone I looked towards when nothing else was going right. RBG fought through the inequality of being a woman, so I will fight as well. RBG stood strong against her male counterparts, so I will stand strong in my positions too. RBG told girls they could be anything, so I will pursue my passions. She wasn’t just a justice. She was a mother, a savior, a hero. 

When the news broke in early 2020 that Ginsburg was diagnosed with cancer, but still fighting and staying strong, I let out an audible sigh of relief. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was invincible, I thought. She’ll get through this again. We need her and she won’t leave now, I convinced myself. 

Just a few hours ago, when the news broke, the only word I heard in my brain was no. The next word I heard was how. Still now, as I write this remembrance article, I don’t know exactly what happened or how I feel. Angry, devastated, scared, maybe a mixture of all three. I’m terrified of who could have shoes big enough to fill hers. Even in her small frame, Ginsburg’s impact has made an imprint so un-fillable, so massive. Her death marks the end of an era for women’s rights, one which we were so far away from completing. 

But the thing is, Ruth Bader Ginsburg hasn’t really passed. Not yet, at least. She lives on in every woman. Every woman fighting for her rights. Every woman speaking up for what she believes in. Every woman that casts her voice forward and votes owes something to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whether we agreed with her or not. It’s because of RBG that we know of this United States. One where we have these rights and these voices. 

As we continue to fight for equality for women, from fixing pay gaps to improving maternity leave, from furthering the #MeToo movement to walking in marches, we can never forget Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She championed for us all. Now, we must fight for her. 

Ginsburg’s impact is massive. The void that stands where she stood, just hours ago, is as expansive as the universe itself. But when we all stand up for what we believe in as women, we can fill this void with our own power. When we stand together as sisters, even through our disagreements on politics or religion, we are strong. As women, we can stand together and continue a legacy of fighting for what we believe in. None of us are Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but together, we are just as powerful. 

Though this is Ginsburg’s last gift, I would argue that it’s her greatest one. 

Featured Image via Supreme Court of the United States Collective

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Joanna Hou
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Joanna Hou is a 17 year old high school student based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about current events, law, and politics. She is an avid writer, journalist, and musician (euphonium and flute). In her spare time, she enjoys reading and boba.

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