RBG was noted for her decisions
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy is her decisions that made a difference through her actions beyond her words. Her stance was not to comport with past judicial habits but to wrestle with the underlying principles that should be used to form future law. She served 27 years as a Supreme Court Justice and changed the court, the contours of national laws, and the significance of equality.
Nina Totenberg reported on NPR’s Weekend Edition on RBG’s passing in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion of Gender Equality, Dies at 87. She notes:
For more than a decade, until her first judicial appointment in 1980, she led the fight in the courts for gender equality. When she began her legal crusade, women were treated, by law, differently from men. Hundreds of state and federal laws restricted what women could do, barring them from jobs, rights and even from jury service. By the time she donned judicial robes, however, Ginsburg had worked a revolution.
RBG will be missed and revered
Totenberg quotes Chief Justice Roberts:
Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice.
The Supreme Court has a long history of ignoring women both in their decisions and in their exclusive cadre of male justices. Decisions, because of this history and context, followed suit to favor those in power (white men) rather than to follow the mantra emblazoned over the entrance of the Supreme Court itself:
Equal Justice Under Law.
RBG’s vision included action
Jill Lepore, the historian, chronicles RBG’s career in her article, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Great Equalizer in the New Yorker. Lepore quotes her:
Through a century plus three decades and more, women did not count among voters composing “We the People.” Not until 1920 did women gain a constitutional right to the franchise. And for a half century thereafter, it remained the prevailing doctrine that government, both federal and state, could withhold from women opportunities accorded men so long as any ‘basis in reason’ could be conceived for the discrimination.
Lepore notes RBG’s tenacity with another quote:
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” [quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.] But it only bends that way if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.
RBG: a fierce fighter for equality, so must we be
Though she was a diminutive figure, she was a giant among the men surrounding her. Accolades abound about how warm she was, how empathetic she was, and how resolute she was. One gets the impression of a fierce fighter for what is right and just and, again, equal.
The takeaway for the rest of us at our odd time of history, is to make decisions and then translate those decisions into action. We must do! In six weeks, we will put the finishing touch on the 2020 election. Every one of us must participate. Every one of us must follow our decisions and check the box. We must vote!
There can be no greater accolade, no greater respect shown than for those of us she left behind but to cast our ballots and be counted. To do otherwise would be to show disrespect, to not be worthy of the gifts she bestowed upon all of us.
It’s good to be counted, to be included. It’s important, too, especially during times that stress our sense of decency and good governance. Yet we know, especially those of you who regularly read these blogs, that many voters will be left out.
Our decisions must matter
Significant citizens will find themselves among the minority that will be silenced. Their vote will not be represented in the Electoral College. It won’t be because they chose poorly or because their opinions are found lacking. No, it will be because they live in the wrong state! Why? Because their state (yes, all 50 of them) employ a Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach that steals the votes from the grip of the Electoral College, suppressing tens of millions of voters in the process.
Equal Voice Voting (EVV) could have been used instead. Each state has the option, the opportunity, to adopt the approach that enables the Electoral College to serve the citizens like never before. Using its proportional popular vote allocation method, EVV can give Electoral College representation to every viable ballot cast. It means all votes matter and, in turn, so do the voters who cast them.
It will require legislators, those who seek to represent all of their constituents, to make some decisions in the coming years. Perhaps by 2024 the presidential election will be more inclusive, at least in some states, and bring a more inclusive democracy to all voters. Perhaps.
The decisions are yours to make. Voting is where it begins. It’s what we must do.
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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team