Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a generation’s unlikely cultural icon. Young women had her image tattooed on their arms; daughters were dressed in R.B.G. costumes for Halloween. “You Can’t Spell Truth Without Ruth” appeared on bumper stickers and T-shirts.
Justice Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, died on Friday. She was 87.
When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired in January 2006, Justice Ginsburg was for a time the only woman on the Supreme Court — hardly a testament to the revolution in the legal status of women that she had helped bring about in her career as a litigator and strategist.
Her years as the solitary female justice were “the worst times,” she recalled in a 2014 interview. “The image to the public entering the courtroom was eight men, of a certain size, and then this little woman sitting to the side. That was not a good image for the public to see.” She was eventually joined by two other women, both named by President Barack Obama: Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010.
Justice Ginsburg’s pointed and powerful dissenting opinions earned her late-life rock stardom. After a law student, Shana Knizhnik, anointed Justice Ginsburg the Notorious R.B.G., the name, and Justice Ginsburg’s image, became internet sensations.
Scholars of the culture searched for an explanation for the phenomenon. Dahlia Lithwick, writing in The Atlantic in early 2019, offered this observation: “Today, more than ever, women starved for models of female influence, authenticity, dignity, and voice hold up an octogenarian justice as the embodiment of hope for an empowered future.”
Now, we want to hear from you. Using the form below, tell us: How did Justice Ginsburg inspire you?
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