I am taking a reprieve from my normal blog to comment on the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
If you ever wanted a person in the justice system to quietly inspire you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg might have been on that shortlist. I was drawn to her mindset to serve justice selflessly. She was the type of person that should be in charge of justice. I trusted her. That feels rare, unfortunately, with our Government.
It’s hard to separate the person she was from her embodiment as a justice icon.
As a person, it appears that she decided early on to see beyond her circumstances to a place that would create new opportunities, fairness, and justice in a way that didn’t exist. She knew what was important and she kept that as her focus. When things didn’t work out, she quietly persevered. She did what she could do, what was within her control. She didn’t show that she was scared. Courage is being scared and still doing what you believe is right.
There were times when she was asked a question and intentionally chose not to answer it – that was her answer. It was better to say nothing than even conceive that the question was worthy of an answer. Knowing when to speak and not to is a shrewd and effective approach that few of us use. There were times when she publicly apologized for her words. She could admit that she was wrong, harsh, or didn’t use the best selection of words – that’s refreshing.
As a Supreme Court Justice, gender equality and Women’s rights were often her focus. She was the second woman to be appointed to the High Court. Legal scholars characterized Ginsburg as a rational minimalist, a jurist who seeks to build cautiously on precedent rather than pushing the Constitution towards her own vision.
I met Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I didn’t know that it was going to happen, but she greeted a group of Judges at a National Women Judge’s conference I attended years ago. I’m not a Judge. I happened to be fortunate enough to be a part of the group. I introduced myself to her as others did. Justice Ginsburg smiled and we all leaned in to hang on her every word. Being in her presence was enough to put me in “awe”.
Sometimes when you talk for years about a famous personality, it feels like maybe they don’t really exist, you may idolize them or have your own ideas of who they are. Seeing was believing. Justice Ginsburg was just as I had hoped she would be – a kind, intelligent, well-spoken woman with a heart for justice. Meeting her was a cherished memory. The best way to honor a great person is to live your best life – we should all make an effort to be more selfless. I wish Justice Ginsburg’s family peace.