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She lived righteously

By Staff | Sep 30, 2020

Last Friday, in her death, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg marked another first for her gender — she was the first woman to lie in state in the Capitol and only the second Supreme Court justice to be so honored.

And somewhere today, she is, perhaps, smiling as she closed her life’s chapter as she lived it.

The Notorious RBG, as some admirers referred to her, is gone. Associate Justice Ginsburg died last Friday, at 87, of cancer.

She was an icon to Americans with certain political positions, a scourge to others. Already, the battle over a successor has become heated, with ideology at the heart of the controversy.

It says something about Associate Justice Ginsburg, however, that during the hours after her death, leaders from throughout the political spectrum poured forth praise freely and with no reservations.

Her written opinions as a justice “have inspired all Americans and generations of great legal minds,” said President Donald Trump.

Ginsburg “never failed in the fierce and unflinching defense of liberty and freedom,” said Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Former President George W. Bush put his finger on an important aspect of her legacy. Ginsburg “inspired more than one generation of women and girls,” he wrote.

Indeed she did.

At a time when glass ceilings remain a concern for many women and girls, Ginsburg showed that it is possible for a female to ascend — through dedication, skill and hard work — to the very pinnacle of political power in our nation. We often think of presidents in that role, but in some of her votes and opinions as a justice, Associate Justice Ginsburg wielded more real power than any president.

Her courage and dedication to what she believed was right stood out. At an age when most people feel they have contributed enough and are entitled to the joys of retirement, Associate Justice Ginsburg fought on. Simply because she feared that if she retired, her successor would not hold similar ideals, she refused to retire, even as she battled cancer.

Whether we agree or disagree with her positions, she provided a model of standing up for what one believes to be right.

And, it has been pointed out, she disagreed without rancor. Among her closest friends while on the court was the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

That, too, is a model to which many Americans ought to look.

Associate Justice Ginsburg’s decisions as a justice may not be missed by some. But her way of pursuing what she saw as right and of serving as a role model — for men as well as women — will be missed, and missed sorely.

She lived righteously.

To those who loved her, Hamakom y’nachem etchem b’toch sh’ar availai tziyon ee yerushalayim.

— Neighbor editorial