12 Powerful Quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Lauren Hubbard
·3 mins read
Photo credit: AFP Contributor - Getty Images
Photo credit: AFP Contributor - Getty Images

From Town & Country

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the pioneering Supreme Court Justice, women's rights activist, and icon has passed away at the age of 87 from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

The Brooklyn-born Justice earned her law degree from Harvard, then one of just nine women in her class. It was far from the last time she would trailblaze for women; she went on to become first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School, found the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union and to help craft the legal case for women's equality, bringing cases before the Supreme Court where she would in 1993 become only the second female Justice in history.

Though "the great dissenter," as she would come to be known, is gone, her work and her words live on to inspire future generations. Here, some of her most powerful quotes.

About the Supreme Court

"When I'm sometimes asked 'When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]?' and I say 'When there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that."

"Dissents speak to a future age. It's not simply to say, 'My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.' But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that's the dissenter's hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow."

On marriage

“Every now and then it helps to be a little deaf...That advice has stood me in good stead. Not simply in dealing with my marriage, but in dealing with my colleagues.”

“If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.”

On creating change

"I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill—very much like a plumber. But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you."

"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time."

"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."

"Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation."

On her life

"My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent."

"So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune."

"Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true."

On how she would like to be remembered

"Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something, as my colleague David Souter would say, outside myself. ‘Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid."

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