We have all had the unfortunate experience of attending a funeral where there is tension and discord among some of the people who are present. This side is not speaking to that side and both sides choose to air their dirty laundry over the deceased.
Death is traumatic enough to the family and friends of the one who has passed away without having to deal publicly with insensitive and inappropriate behavior by people who should be acting like adults.
We experienced all that nonsense and more on a national level last week with the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Democrats and Republicans took disrespect to a new level.
The woman was barely cold from losing her battle with cancer before the bickering began.
The Republicans were puffing up their chests and demanding a nomination be made and voted on prior to the November election. Most nomination vetting takes months, not weeks. But this is 2020 and nothing is normal.
The Democrats were quick to jump on the talk show circuit blasting Republicans for such a sneaky move. Never mind, they would do the same thing given the right circumstances. It is always about the power.
All the political pandering overshadowed the loss of a great woman. Her enduring legacy is lost floating around in all the nastiness.
We should be celebrating her accomplishments and mourning her loss for more than five minutes.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was only the second woman appointed to the high court at the time of her nomination. She was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993.
She grew up in a low-income working- class neighborhood like many others.
Ginsburg entered Harvard Law School in 1956. She and eight other women were admonished by the dean of the school for taking places he believed should have gone to qualified males. This incident probably served as the catalyst for her crusade to end discrimination in as many places as possible. It took great courage to make it a life’s mission as she eventually would.
She later transferred to Columbia Law School and graduated first in her class. She would become Columbia’s first female tenured professor.
Ginsburg once held a job as law professor at Rutgers. When she discovered male colleagues were making more money than she and the other females doing the same job, she filed an equal pay complaint and won. She also fought for females to earn the same retirement benefits as men.
Before being appointed to the high court, she argued six cases on gender equality before them and won five.
While she will be remembered as a feminist, Ginsburg fought against discrimination involving men also.
One of the five cases she won involved a section of the Social Security Act that granted certain benefits to widows but not widowers. She believed it should be illegal to discriminate because they were men. In a case from 1976, Ginsburg argued before the Supreme Court that an Oklahoma law which allowed women to buy beer at 18 but prohibited men from doing so until they were 21 was discriminatory. She won that case also.
She based her fights on interpretations of the constitution of the United States. Ginsburg believed she won the five Supreme Court discrimination cases by convincing the all-male court that discrimination based on sex was in violation of the 14th amendment to the constitution.
In 1996 Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion holding that qualified women could not be denied admission to Virginia Military Institute simply because of their gender.
Fellow judges said Ginsburg believed the law should be gender-blind and all groups be entitled to equal rights.
Ginsburg was married for 56 years. She once said of her late husband, “he was the only man I dated who cared that I had a brain.”
Ginsburg’s accomplishments as part of the judiciary benefited numerous people and organizations.
She was an advocate for the rights of the LGBT community, undocumented and disabled people. She also fought for the expansion of voting rights.
She often defended the importance of a free press and an independent judiciary.
Her strategy was to attack specific areas of discrimination and violations one at a time. Her position was that major social change should not come from the court but from Congress and legislatures.
By challenging laws that were based on ancient stereotypes of women, Ginsburg increased the number of roles available to American women. For that, we owe her much gratitude.
We should continue her fight to preserve the rights she won on our behalf.
In death she achieved another milestone. She became the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol.
Filling her shoes will not be an easy task.
Rest in peace, RBG. We thank you for your service.
Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.