Kathy Ehrhart, On Behalf of the Freeborn Women’s Leadership Council:
We lost a giant Friday evening. Justice Ginsburg was an extraordinary woman and jurist, with a great love for humanity, this country, and the law.
And it was with great emotion that many of us received the news. I myself sat down and cried. While I was raised with the privilege of having two parents who instilled in me the belief that I could grow up to be anything that I wanted, its hard to hold that belief in your deepest heart of hearts when you don’t always see someone who looks like you in certain roles. Justice Ginsburg made me a believer. She made so many women like me believers. Yes, Justice O’Connor came first, and her importance in history or the law cannot be overlooked, but for so many of us it is Justice Ginsburg who is the female trailblazer that we looked to. It is Justice Ginsburg that did so much for the advancement of women’s rights and it is Justice Ginsburg who never stopped fighting for the need to continue advancing those rights.
Key facts from her biography are well known and have been cited in many articles over the past several days. But several require repeating. Justice Ginsburg was one of nine women in her Harvard law class of over 500. She nursed a baby and sick husband while maintaining her status as an academic all-star. Despite having many doors shut because she was a woman, and having to hide a pregnancy to keep a teaching job, was she deterred? No, she focused her attention on fighting for gender equality and against discrimination, a fight she continued throughout her career. She filed legal brief after legal brief seeking to persuade the courts that the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection applies not just to racial and ethnic minorities but to women as well. And her role on the Court continuing that fight speaks for itself.
She showed women that we can be anything that we want and that she was willing to fight to open the pathways to get us there. As she famously said “women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” The Women’s Leadership Council of Freeborn could not agree more, Justice Ginsburg.
We deserve to be in all places where decisions are being made. We deserve to be at all levels of the legal industry. We deserve to be in every courtroom. We deserve to be in every C-suite. We deserve to be at every board table. We need more of us that look like us to be examples for every young woman out there. So that they too see and know that they can choose to be anything they want to be.
Thanks for all that you taught us, Justice Ginsburg. We’ll take it from here.