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RBG's Shoes



Republicans are doing everything they can to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court before the Nov. 3 presidential election. This, despite Ginburg's dying wish asking she "not be replaced until a new president is installed." It's possible the court will have a conservative majority before the election. And many worry that women's rights, which so many have fought for and won, are headed for the dumpster.

When I got into the real estate business almost four decades ago, women had only recently been enjoying the right to own homes and have credit cards in their own names without a husband's permission. Some lenders and homeowners felt that women were unworthy of financial equality, and I saw loans put at the bottom of approval lists at local banks before loans were granted to single women or (gasp) two women who wished to own together.

Ginsburg co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU in 1972 and became the project's general counsel the following year. That group was involved in more than 300 gender-discrimination cases within a year, and Ginsburg herself argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court from 1973-76, winning five of the six cases. The case that really caught some attention was Moritz v. Commissioner in 1972 on behalf of a man who was denied support of his child because he was the primary caregiver (instead of a woman). Ginsburg was smart to use the man as the example in the case.

In 1975, Ginsburg represented a widower who was denied survivor benefits through social security in the case of Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld. Back then, benefits were only for widows, not widowers. She also argued against a law that made jury duty for women mandatory (while it was not so for men) and sued members of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina on behalf of a woman who had been wrongly sterilized to keep her welfare benefits, which she would have lost if the procedure were not done.

Early on, her aides suggested she never sue on the basis of "sex discrimination" because the word "sex" would distract the male judges. She concurred and argued "gender bias" cases instead.

Since he was elected, Trump has appointed almost 200 Republican judges and two conservative Supreme Court justices: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In his two terms, Obama appointed 312 Democratic judges, about 39% of all standing federal judges at the moment.

There has never been, and may never be, a judge who has done so much for women and women's rights as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. May her memory be a blessing to us all.