“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
Gunster’s Women’s Leadership Forum honors the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a true American Hero and a tireless Champion of Gender Equality. Both before and during her twenty-seven year tenure on the nation’s highest court, Justice Ginsburg changed the way the world is for women in America, leading the fight in the courts for gender equality.
Justice Ginsburg was the Founder and General Counsel of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project; by 1974, the project had participated in nearly 300 gender discrimination cases throughout the country. While at the ACLU, Justice Ginsburg played a role in 34 Supreme Court cases, and personally argued six gender discrimination cases before the then-all male supreme court, winning five out of the six and establishing important precedents in the field of gender equality.
In 1993, Justice Ginsburg was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a vote of 96 to 3. During her tenure with the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg continued her efforts to push for full gender equality under the 14th Amendment.
While certainly not exhaustive, Justice Ginsburg’s long-lasting impact on gender equality can be felt in her role in many groundbreaking decisions, both as an advocate and a justice.
- Reed v. Reed (1971) striking down an Idaho law which favored men over women in estate conflicts;
- Frontiero v. Richardson (1973) prohibiting gender discrimination in the context of compensation for members of the military;
- Healy v. Edwards (1973) striking down sex-based exemption of women from jury service as a violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process;
- Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld (1975) striking down laws allowing gender discrimination in the context of state benefits;
- Craig v. Boren (1976),ruling that statutory or administrative sex classifications were subject to intermediate scrutiny under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause;
- Califano v. Goldfarb (1977), finding that gender based requirements for survivors benefits violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment;
- Duren v. Missouri (1979), striking down Jackson County’s practice of automatically exempting women from jury duty on requests as a violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees to a trial by a jury chosen from a fair cross section of the community; and
- United States v. Virginia (1996) striking down the male-only admission policy at the Virginia Military Institute and established a new standard of review for sex discrimination cases.
In addition to her legacy in the legal field, she is survived by all of us, whose lives and careers she made possible through her lifelong work in pursuit of equality for all under the law. Justice Ginsburg taught us to “fight for the things [we] care about . . . in a way that will lead others to join” us.
Thank you Justice Ginsburg and may your memory be a revolution.
Gunster’s Women’s Leadership Forum