One of the country’s most respected intellects left the mortal world Friday when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer in the presence of loved ones at her Washington home.
Ginsburg’s death leaves a hole in the soul of our country. At 87 years old, she had risen to the level of a cultural icon second in relevance to none. Her most loyal fans knew her as R.B.G. and had those letters boldly tattooed onto their skin.
Ginsburg ruled on every possible human conflict but stands out among a few of the most cherished defenders of gender equality.
At 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, she had defeated multiple bouts with cancer and other illnesses that often kill younger people of more robust physical stature. She had a will to live and continued working to interpret the law in the manner she considered fair and just for the people of a country she loved.
Though nearly half the country typically disagrees with the decisions and judicial philosophy of any federal judge, Ginsburg always distinguished herself as a cornerstone of wisdom, caring and strength. In her later years on the court, she took on the image of the nation’s wise, formidable rock-star grandma.
Ginsburg was among the last of a vanishing brand in Washington who never let weighty philosophical disputes, whether judicial or political, become personal and vitriolic. President Bill Clinton nominated her in 1993 to replace Colorado’s own Byron “Whizzer” White, who retired. She ruled reliably among the liberal block of the court, but her best friend was the doggedly conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
“We were best buddies,” a mourning Ginsburg wrote after Scalia’s passing in 2016. They shared a love for the law and opera and a passion for the lost art of polite, respectful debate among friends.
If deceased friends reunite in a better place, we hope Ginsburg and Scalia enjoy a fine wine this weekend and respectfully discuss 23 years of conflicting judicial opinions that shape our culture today.
Our country upholds liberty and justice for all by having diverse members of the federal judiciary who share a love of country but see things from different perspectives. History will long remember Ginsburg as a marquee Supreme Court justice who worked until she died trying to leave the world better than she found it. Among those who cherished and opposed her majority and dissenting opinions, she will be respected and missed.