Letters to the UMB Community

Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 21, 2020

Dear UMB Community,

I join many others in expressing my condolences to the family of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the feeling of loss across the country. Justice Ginsburg spent 27 years on the Supreme Court and was a powerful force for justice and equality throughout her professional life.

So many who enter the legal profession do so because of people like Justice Ginsburg —and we all benefit from her legacy. Despite the many obstacles in her way, Justice Ginsburg fought not only for herself but also for generations of women to come. She was one of only nine women at Harvard Law School in 1956 and was often asked why she was taking a seat that otherwise could have gone to a man. After transferring, Ginsburg went on to graduate tied for first in her class at Columbia Law School.

A series of other firsts continued — she co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, became the first tenured woman at Columbia Law School, co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, and later became the project’s general counsel. As a professor at Rutgers Law School, Ginsburg was told that she would be paid less than her male colleagues because of her husband’s income. Along with her female colleagues, she filed and won a discrimination case against the university.

The Women’s Rights Project made an immediate impact, participating in over 300 discrimination cases between 1972-74. Taking a strategic and targeted course toward ending gender discrimination, Ginsburg argued six cases before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976 and is credited with making significant advances for gender equality and women’s rights.

She was a transformative figure, and her work dismantled many of the systemic biases against women contained in our patriarchal legal structure. Whether it be fighting for equal rights to enter a contract, or recognizing a woman’s right to maintain employment and have children, Justice Ginsburg fought for gender equality and dignity. She was a brilliant legal mind, known for her fiery dissents and as a champion of our democratic values.

I am reminded of her words to "fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." I know that you join me in mourning the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and hope that together we can continue to advocate for justice and equality in her honor.

Sincerely,

Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS
President


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