Remembering RBG’s Legacy, Work for Gender Equality
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former Supreme Court Justice of the United States, was a trailblazer for women’s rights. One week ago today, Ginsburg died from pancreatic cancer complications, according to the court. Though she may be gone, there are certain legislative landmarks that will keep her memory alive.
Her dissents on the Supreme Court and often unpopular progressive opinions are part of the reason that women have the liberties they do today. To honor her life of heroic achievements, here are just a few of the rights women now have all thanks to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974)
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, passed by President Gerald Ford in 1974, “prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age,” according to The United states Department of Justice.
Ginsburg, who was a Columbia University law professor at the time, worked tirelessly to get this enacted. Because of Ginsburg, women can apply for bank accounts, credit cards and mortgages without a male co-signer.
- Women can attend state-funded schools
In 1996, The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) only admitted male students. It was argued that this violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
When the case made its way to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion which would require The VMI to also admit female students. “…It failed to show ‘exceedingly persuasive justification’ for VMI's gender-biased admissions policy, Virginia violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause.” A few years after the case was won, Ginsburg visited with some of the women cadets at VMI.
According to an interview with Lisa Beattie Frelinghuysen (a former law clerk for Ginsburg) for NPR, “They were just shining."
"They were incredibly excited about their lives going forward and determined to make a difference in the world," Frelinghuysen said. "It was really thrilling to see. Several of them thanked the justice for helping them to achieve their dreams, and I found that quite moving."
- Gender rights in the workplace
In 1978, The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed. Along with Georgetown University law professor and founder/director of the International Women's Human Rights Clinic at Georgetown, Susan Deller Ross, Ginsburg helped to have discrimination against pregnant women recognized as a form of sexual discrimination.
Pregnancy-based discrimination is considered unlawful thanks to Ginsburg and Ross’ work with The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “…on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs…”
- The Women’s Rights Project
Ginsburg co-founded the ACLU Women’s Rights Project with Ross. The Women’s Rights Project achieved groundbreaking success for gender equality.
According to the project’s homepage, during its formative years, “the ACLU Women's Rights Project was the major, and sometimes the solitary, national legal arm of the growing movement for gender equality.” Both Ginsburg and Ross served as a platform that advocated for actively working against discrimination on the basis of sex.
“Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg