Yesterday was just another normal day. I was doing what I normally do. Writing, working, getting things done. Then, in the early evening, a friend sent me a message on Facebook. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died and my whole world tilted on its side.
As my head began to spin and my mind reeled, I was overcome by a multitude of emotions. Grief, sadness, fear, heartache, but most of all, and somewhat surprising at first, rage.
I was angry. So angry that I could not find the words to express my anger.
For 27 years, Ginsburg served on the Court. She was only the second woman in the history of this country to do so, following Sandra Day O’Connor. In that time, she became the face of women’s rights as well as the rights of other marginalized communities in the Supreme Courth.
She famously authored the Court’s decision in the 1996 case United States v. Virginia in which the Virginia Military Institute was being sued for their discriminatory male-only admittance policies.
During the case, Virginia proposed starting a parallel program called the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership for women at Mary Baldwin College, but Ginsburg struck down that notion, noting that–as we’ve seen in every other case of separate but equal policies–this new program would undoubtedly fail to offer equal training to women who joined the program.
Then there was Olmstead v. L.C., a case which dealt with the employment rights of those deemed mentally ill in which she upheld that mental illness was protected under the umbrella of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
And of course, there was her support of the LGBTQ+ community when she voted in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. It was a landmark decision.
Now it goes without saying, other Justices stood with these decisions, but Ginsburg was notably consistent and often let her displeasure in majority decisions be known by reading her dissenting opinions aloud from the Bench. It is a rare practice and undoubtedly a power move that was wholly effective on her part.
But all of this is academic. These are sterile facts, and while they played into my emotional upheaval, they were not entirely the reason why I was so angry.
You see, for myself and so many Americans, Ginsburg had somehow transcended her position as a Supreme Court Justice. She had become a symbol, a guardian, a protector of rights, and a force to be reckoned with when equality was threatened. She was not perfect, but damn it, she was on our side.
Her lace collars became her superhero’s cowl and her gavel, Mjolnir, and for the last four years, it seemed she stood at the gates of the Hall of Justice, daring the current administration’s regime to pick a fight with her.
It is no wonder she looked so frail. She was fighting two cancers simultaneously. One attacked her body; the other attacked her country. I’m sure there were days when she wanted to simply sit down and rest, but she seemed to not have that in her. She had grown up a fighter and she continued to fight until her final breath.
So why am I angry?
I’m angry that she had to do it.
I’m angry that we live in a country where women like RBG had to stand up and repeatedly say, “No, this is not right. You are corrupt, and this will not stand in this republic.”
I’m angry that in 2020, the equal rights of so many hang in the balance.
I’m angry that we live in a world where science and reason are pushed aside by self-righteous politicians and their agendas.
I’m angry that the world is dying around us while corporations and lobbyists look at massive fires, unprecedented hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and disease ravaging the population and choose to shrug their shoulders and look the other way because it doesn’t fit into their narrative and isn’t profitable.
I’m angry that, even now, there are conservative politicians wringing their hands with glee at the thought of her death and who will try to push through yet another far-right lapdog like Kavanaugh onto the Bench which will influence court decisions for decades to come.
I’m angry at American apathy in the face of a fascist regime.
I’m angry that many of those Americans will make countless insipid Facebook posts about wanting equality and equity in this country but won’t get off their damned couches to show up to vote against the people who are steadily stripping their rights away.
I’M ANGRY THAT THERE ARE COUNTLESS PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO ARE NOT FUCKING ANGRY.
I’m angry at so many things, and while I can normally keep my anger in check in favor of reasoned arguments, the death of Justice Ginsburg brought all of that rage to the surface and I cannot seem to tamp it back down to be “reasonable.”
The last four years have been one turning point after another, and this country obviously has the wrong map.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, and my heart goes out to her family, her friends, and the people she held dear. We may never see another like her on the Supreme Court in our lifetime, and that is yet another reason to be angry.