Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg and This Florida Judge’s Immigrant Life Following Her A Decade Later. Parallels Demonstrate Six Keys To Success For Grandchildren and How To Honor Her Legacy

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a giant among us and her loss has been felt nationwide.  The following two quotes I received from friends and relatives upon the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman Justice and first Jewish woman justice, touched me the most.

“A Jewish teaching says those who die just before the Jewish New Year are the ones God has held back until the last moment because they were needed most and were the most righteous.  And so it was that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died as the sun was setting marking the beginning of Rosh Hashanah.”

“That the first female Jewish Supreme Court Justice departed the evening of the holiest day in the most sacred moment of her religion just shows how highly God thought of her and what she stood for.”

Then, I was sent the New York Central Synagogue tribute to Justice Ginsburg that appears on You Tube.  I challenge any reader to watch it and not end up with tears in one’s eyes.

Tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg | Central Synagogue Rosh Hashanah

Taking time to process what her death meant to America, I took time to appreciate what her life meant to me.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn to Russian Jews. I am an immigrant, a baby born a stateless person in a displaced persons’ camp in Germany, to two Holocaust survivors, and fortunately brought to America when I was six months old.  My family supported my goal to become a judge, and when I sought to go to law school a decade later than Justice Ginsburg, women were still not welcome.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg shouldered on as one of few women in the law school, and could not find a job as a lawyer, even though graduating at the top of her class, something my father said would happen to me a decade later.  It would have.  I waited to go to law school when the enrollment was fifty percent women, a circumstance for which we must thank the work of then A.C.L.U. lawyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked by the dean of her law school why she was taking a seat of a man.  Yet, still, two decades later, when I told my dean I was in law school to become a judge, he laughed and asked why I was really there. With focus and intent, we both made it to the bench, albeit for me it was decades after the Justice and to Florida circuit court.  Both of us faced seas of men in our profession and on the bench, some hostile, some mentors, some cherished colleagues.  Her words, “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks,” was said in 1973.  I did not become a lawyer until 1984, and a judge until 1997.  That quote held true for me too, and I know, even after my retirement, and her death, the words still hold true for our granddaughters.  As Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”  Woman lawyers and woman judges still face an uphill battle for success today, and I agree with Justice Ginsburg that work remains to be done for equality for women, all women, not just professional women.

Yes, there are so much advice for living that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provided for us and our grandchildren, for us to impart to them, and for us to honor her.

“I do follow advice I’ve often repeated, my mother-in-law’s advice on the day I was wed. . . .She took me aside just before the ceremony to tell me the secret of a happy marriage. The secret was: “It helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” I have followed that advice assiduously in every workplace, even in my current job. If an unkind word is said, I just tune out.”

There are so many times in life, as a woman, when nothing needs to be said, as what is required is action, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a role model of what action can accomplish.

“My Mother’s advice was to be independent. It would be very nice if you met Prince Charming, married, and lived happily ever after. My mother said, “Always be prepared to be self-standing, to fend for yourself.” Her advice came at a time when most wives were considered properly dependent on their husbands. If a man’s wife worked, that reflected adversely on him.”

When I began my legal career in the 1980’s, I was still one of a few women litigators in the county courthouse. To survive, we working women lawyers needed family who supported us, as Justice Ginsburg stated.  The child who gave me tremendous guilt about being a working mother having her father share parenting responsibilities, and who said she would never leave her children home when she was an adult, now is successfully and happily one of married professional working women with a supportive spouse.  Both of our daughters are professional working women.  As Justice Ginsburg was to all of us, each of us must be a role model our male and female grandchildren can emulate.

“Yes, courts are not leaders in social change. They follow after movement in the larger society. That was true with respect to racial justice. It’s true, now, with the women’s movement. It’s true with the LGBTQ movement. How long that discrimination lingered when people were hiding in closets. Change occurred only when they came out and said, “This is who we are, and we’re proud of it.” Once they did that, changes occurred rapidly.”

My middle grandson recently wisely said that we must embrace change because it is inevitable.  Justice Ginsburg showed us that we Americans, with focus and overcoming obstacles, must work for “what she called a more “embracive” Constitution—one that embraced previously excluded groups, including women, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community—not just grudgingly, as she put it, but with open arms.” “Ginsburg’s vision led us to a better America. We can do the same,” by Goodwin Liu, Washington Post, September 20, 2020

My favorite Justice Ginsburg quote is “You cannot have it all, at the same time. . . and this applies to men as well as women.”  “RBG’s Life, in Her Own Words,” by Jeffrey Rosen, The Atlantic, September 19, 2020.  We all have to make choices in this life, and we have to create balance and understanding that we can have it all, but not at the same time.

I have always believed as she did, “What has become of me could happen only in America. Like so many others, I owe so much to the entry this nation afforded to people yearning to breathe free.”

And for our grandchildren, this famous quote by Justice Ginsburg:

“When I’m sometimes asked, ‘When will there be enough (women on the Supreme Court)?’ and my answer is: ‘When there are nine.’ People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lessons are many, which this Grandma sums up in six keys for success to share with our grandchildren:

Focus and Hard Work

Overcome Obstacles and Prejudice

Support Along Life’s Path

Helping Others As Others Help You

Enjoying Your Life Work

Impacting The Future

It is with the last of her legacy, impacting the future, that we Americans are able to honor in her memory.  I listened to a talk about Justice Ginsburg that Jeffrey Rosen, author of

“CONVERSATIONS WITH RBG Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law,” gave.

He said that she asked her what remains undone, what were her concerns.

She told him:

UNCONSCIOUS BIASES

“Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.”

“Implicit bias training programs are designed to expose people to their implicit biases, provide tools to adjust automatic patterns of thinking, and ultimately eliminate discriminatory behaviors.”

THAT THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT (ERA) PASSES

“It was not until 1971 that equal protection applied to women.  The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex.”

“The Constitution provides that amendments take effect when three-quarters of the states ratify them, putting the current threshold at 38 states. Virginia was the 38th state to ratify the ERA since Congress proposed it in 1972, technically pushing the ERA across that threshold. And yet, there are still hurdles in the ERA’s path. The ratification deadlines that Congress set after it approved the amendment have lapsed, and five states have acted to rescind their prior approval. These raise important questions, and now it is up to Congress, the courts, and the American people to resolve them. . . . despite . . . dramatic and important gains for women’s rights, pervasive gender discrimination persists in the form of wage disparities, sexual harassment and violence, and unequal representation in the institutions of American democracy.”  https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/equal-rights-amendment-explained

THAT ROE V. WADE IS NOT OVERTURNED

“Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. It struck down many U.S. state and federal abortion laws.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade

It does not seem as though Justice Ginsburg will get her final wish, told to her granddaughter, that her “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

But we Americans can work to honor her legacy by working together toward addressing Justice Ginsburg’s concerns that remain. We can do our part to make these happen or not happen, as she wished.  As she said, “fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you,” and “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” Hopefully, when our grandchildren are adults, they can see that we did our part to join together to address  her concerns with

 

Joy,

 

Mema

 

For more of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s quotes, see:

 

“17 Powerfully Inspiring Quotes From Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” by Peter Economy, September 21, 2020,  INC.

https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/17-powerfully-inspiring-quotes-from-ruth-bader-ginsburg.html

 

“23 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes That Will Make You Love Her Even More,” By Catherine Pearson, September 18, 2020, Huffington Post.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/23-ruth-bader-ginsburg-quotes-that-will-make-you-love-her-even-more_n_57a8b256e4b0aae2a5a0887b

 

“10 quotes that help define the ‘Notorious RBG’ legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” by Jay Croft, September 20, 2020, CNN.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/19/politics/best-ruth-bader-ginsburg-quotes-trnd/index.html

 

“12 Powerful Quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” by Lauren Hubbard, September 19, 2020, Town and Country.

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/politics/a34081296/ruth-bader-ginsburg-quotes/

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