Opinion: A life well lived, Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Ricky Barker, Columnist

Mourners carried candles and rang bells at a recent political figure’s vigil in Boone. It was a memorial to one of the most prominent and influential justices of the Supreme Court: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The 87-year-old died Sept. 18, due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. 

Ginsburg was the second female justice on the court, and her track record is extraordinary. Before taking her seat on the Supreme Court, she was a paladin of women’s civil rights and won several landmark cases against legal sexual stereotyping with the ACLU like Craig v. Boren. This passion for civil liberties and rights continued through her career as a justice. In cases like United States v. Virginia and Ledbetter v. Goodyear, she championed women’s rights to equal pay and opportunities. She supported gay marriage and continuely protected reproductive rights through several cases like Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. 

This is a great shame because it seems that her potential successor in the position holds principles that are the complete opposite. The president has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the 7th Circuit of Appeals in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Barrett is a staunchly conservative judge, which is no surprise considering who made the nomination. However it’s the Supreme Court nominee’s certain beliefs that are troubling: Barrett has a clear anti-abortion record. In her senate circuit court confirmation she stressed her religious beliefs and gave a non-answer when questioned on her opinion of Roe v. Wade. In two cases concerning Indiana laws creating abortion limits, she voted for restrictive measures both times

In 2015, she signed a letter to Catholic bishops, describing marriage as “founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.” She is also part of conservative Catholic group called “People of Praise”, which only allows male leadership and requires an oath of loyalty.

In a statement from the App State Women’s Center, they honor Ginsburg: “She made it clear that women’s rights are human rights, reproductive health care is a priority, and that the right to marry is fundamental. She opened countless doors of opportunity for the work we do now, and we honor her legacy.”

 It’s a shame that her potential successor does not seem to hold up the same standards of reproductive justice and possibly women’s rights. In fact, it seems that Republican party has found almost the exact opposite of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s likely that this is by design, in an attempt to topple some of what Ginsburg built, and it’s concerning to think that we could have this justice for thirty years or more.