United States: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the death of a law icon

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participating in a discussion hosted by Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, September 12, 2019. REUTERS / Sarah Silbiger

Text by: Marie Normand Follow

6 min

The famous Supreme Court judge, champion of the fight for women's rights, died Friday, September 18 at the age of 87.

In theory, his death paves the way for the appointment of a new senior magistrate by Donald Trump before the presidential election, which would anchor the highest American court even more in the conservative camp.


Read more

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

has never been afraid of firsts.

Born in 1933, this Brooklyn teen, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Odessa, was the first girl in her family to enter college.

At 21, she graduated from her class at Cornell and joined Harvard's first mixed class: 9 women for 491 men.

Passionate about law, she once again graduated from her class at Columbia.

However, in the 1960s in New York, no firm wanted to hire this brilliant lawyer.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a woman in a still exclusively male environment.

She changed the rights of American women

This experience will mark her for life.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg became a specialist in women's rights and embarked on remarkable pleadings against sexist discrimination, particularly in the world of work.

Six cases defended before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976: five victories.

I am not asking for any favors for people of my gender

," she explained later.

All I ask of our brothers is that they please remove their feet from our necks


His trademark ?

His respect for protocol, his great restraint, which at first glance might be taken for severity.

After a career as a lawyer and as a judge at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, President Bill Clinton made her in 1993 the second woman in history to sit on the United States Supreme Court.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg had become its oldest and one of the last progressive pillars.

Beyond women's rights, it also remains famous for its struggles for minority rights and the environment.

A figure of pop culture

For several years, his state of health had been in the headlines.

The judge has faced four cancers since the 1990s and had been hospitalized twice this summer.

It was finally pancreatic cancer that took her away.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg had vowed to stay in her post until the end and was committed to daily sports training, including a series of push-ups.

This tenacity and this extraordinary career have earned her an idolatry to which her position did not predispose her.


fan blog

is entirely dedicated to him.

Her chunky necklaces and earrings can be found on mugs, t-shirts and wallpapers.

A starification amplified by the success of the Hollywood biopic

Une femme d'exception

and the





I'm 84 and everyone wants their picture taken with me


 She laughed a few years ago.

For all Americans, she is RBG, even “Notorious RBG”, in reference to the rapper “Notorious BIG”.

A third conservative judge appointed by Trump


With each health problem, thousands of Internet users rushed to Twitter to wish him a speedy recovery and ask him " 

to hold on 

" until the presidential election of November 3.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was indeed one of the four progressive justices - out of nine - in the Supreme Court.

His death theoretically gives President Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a new judge, the third since the start of his mandate, and to anchor the highest American court a little more in the conservative camp, for several decades.

The judges of the Supreme Court are in fact appointed for life.

The president has so far drawn from the pool of Federalist Society judges, like his Republican predecessors.

This powerful organization, created by the Minister of Justice of Ronald Reagan in 1982, aims to train young conservative lawyers, who will not switch, later, to the progressive camp

 ", explains Anne Deysine, professor emeritus at the he University of Paris-Nanterre and author of

The Supreme Court of the United States.

Law, politics and democracy. 

(Ed. Dalloz).

In its pre-selection of candidates, moreover, there are conservative judges, most of them opposed to abortion and in favor of carrying weapons.

In August, he said he would not hesitate to appoint a Supreme Court judge even very close to the election.

But Donald Trump has yet to reveal anything of his intentions, hailing for the time being a “

 colossus of law 


And the Democrats intend to resist.

Joe Biden has already called not to rush to replace her before the election.

 I will be very clear: it is up to the voters to choose the president.

The president chooses the judge.

And the Senate validates.

And the presidential election is only 46 days away, 

”he stressed.

Once appointed by the Head of State, it is up to the Head of the Senate to endorse this choice.

Republican Mitch McConnell said he was ready to organize a vote to nominate Ruth Bader Ginsburg's successor.

In her last wishes, dictated a few days before her death to her granddaughter Clara Spera, reports NPR radio, the judge had indicated: "

 My dearest wish is not to be replaced until a new president has not sworn. 

The battle is on.


Receive all the international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application


  • United States

  • Womens rights

  • Justice