7 of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court decisions and dissents that changed American history
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday evening at the age of 87, after decades-long battles against cancer.
- She was a revolutionary force of equality, impacting the lives of many Americans throughout her career.
- Here are 7 of the most notable opinions in her 27 years on the Supreme Court.
- For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday evening at 87 years old after a long battle against cancer.
She served on the Supreme Court for more than 27 years, her dedication and commitment to justice leaving a lasting legacy.
As the world mourns her death, here is a look into Justice Ginsburg's historic decisions and dissents during her tenure on the high court.
Equal access to education for women (United States v. Virginia, 1996)
Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in a 1996 case that opened doors for women's education. In United States v. Virginia, a 7-1 ruling determined that the Virginia Military Institute's (VMI) male-only admissions policy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pointing out that "today's skeptical scrutiny of official action denying rights or opportunities based on sex responds to volumes of history," the majority opinion refuted Virginia's description of "absence of public single sex higher education for women" as "an historical anomaly.""A prime part of the history of our Constitution, historian Richard Morris recounted, is the story of the extension of constitutional rights and protections to people once ignored or excluded," Justice Ginburg delivered the decision. "VMI's story continued as our comprehension of 'We the People' expanded. There is no reason to believe that the admission of women capable of all the activities required of VMI cadets would destroy the Institute rather than enhance its capacity to serve the 'more perfect Union.'"
A historic step for disability rights (Olmstead v. L.C., 1999)
Justice Ginsburg delivered the majority opinion that sections of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act determine that "States are required to place persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions" when treatment professionals deem it appropriate, the individual does not oppose the transfer, and the State can reasonably accommodate.
This decision marked a historic step for disability rights. Building on this decision, in 2009, the Civil Rights Division doubled down on efforts to uphold the Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C. through a variety of programs.
'I dissent' (Bush v. Gore, 2000)
In the 2000 presidential election, former president George W. Bush took a lead over former vice president Al Gore by less than 0.5% in Florida which meant the state law required a recount. Gore filed a complaint for a hand count in the county circuit court, as concerns over flaws in ballot designs loomed over the election. The Florida Supreme Court ordered a hand vote recount of the ballots.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Florida Supreme Court's mandate for a manual recount of votes was unconstitutional and ina 5-4 vote ruled that there will be no recount of the votes. This decision effectively secured an election win for Bush.
Justice Ginsburg dissented to the decision and wrote that the "conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court's own judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not decide the Presidency of the United States."
Instead of concluding her opinion with the normal "I respectfully dissent," Justice Ginsburg concluded her statement with "I dissent" — and the two-word phrase became her trademark. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who sided with the majority at the time, said in 2013 that the case led to "a less-than-perfect reputation" for the high court.
Preventing environmental pollution (Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, 2000)
Gender discrimination in the workplace (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 2007)
Protecting the fourth amendment (Safford Unified School District v. Redding, 2009)
"They have never been a 13-year-old girl," Justice Ginsburg told USA Today. "It's a very sensitive age for a girl. I didn't think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood."
Addressing voter discrimination (Shelby County v. Holder, 2013)
In a 5-4 rule, the Supreme Court decided that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. The key provision that included clearance requirements for states with a history of racial discrimination before carrying out new voting laws, Business Insider previously reported.
Justice Ginsburg dissented to the majority opinion and wrote that this decision "terminates the remedy that proved to be best suited to block" voting discrimination. She cited that the 2006 reauthorisation of the Voting Rights Act "with overwhelming bipartisan support" was a decision that recognised "40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination following nearly 100 years of disregard for the dictates of the 15th amendment and to ensure that the right of all citizens to vote is protected as guaranteed by the Constitution."
"The sad irony of today's decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective," Justice Ginsburg wrote."Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet," she noted.
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