The Notorious RBG

Illustration by Tiffany Dang

RBG. Three letters that evoke a woman of enormous intellect and courage. For so many women in the legal community, her passing brought feelings of despair and dread; our mentor, flame-holder and civil rights guardian has left us and created a vacuum so great, it feels nothing can fill that space. 


So much has been written on what made her so extraordinary: her brilliance, her conviction and her impact as both an attorney and jurist. But for female attorneys one attribute was foremost: she was relatable. She was a working mom, wife, advocate and activist. She could have been a friend from law school, Marin County Women Lawyers or California Women Lawyers (CWL); someone who fights every day for equality, juggles the demands of family and community, and tries to be the best attorney she can be.


The loss created an overwhelming sense of urgency across the nation. Discussion
saturated social media. In just three days, members of the CWL board created a nationally attended, virtual tribute with women honoring her from all over the country. One speaker, the Honorable Martha Walters, described how meaningful it was for her as the only woman on the Oregon Supreme Court to have another woman elected to the position. When asked years ago, Justice Ginsburg unabashedly stated there would be enough women on the United States Supreme Court “when there are nine,” as there had been nine men without question. She inspired with grace, practicality and determination. 


Many are asking, what do we do now? We will keep working to bring about change as Justice Ginsburg did — relentlessly. This loss spurred a feeling of fierce obligation to RBG and to all of her sacrifice. We cannot allow her life of service to have been in vain and must continue to fight for what she advanced. There remains so much to achieve: the Equal Rights Amendment, a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom, and the guarantee of civil rights for all of our citizens, no matter their racial or gender identity. Civil rights are not up for debate. They are the rights of all humanity. While some have made the word “feminism” political, ask any feminist and she will tell you that feminism is about equal opportunity and the right to self-actualize. Justice Ginsburg understood this, and with the help of our allies, we will persevere.