Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s iconic quotes on law, love and the fight for equality

Ginsburg was known for never shying away from making progressive statements, no matter how controversial the subject may be.

[Sept. 19, 2020: Li Cohen]

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday after suffering from complications from metastatic pancreas cancer. But the 87-year-old who has become known and endeared as "The Notorious RBG" left behind words of wisdom, love and strength to ensure that her legacy of fighting for justice will continue well beyond her life.

Ginsburg was known for never shying away from making progressive statements, no matter how controversial the subject may be. From the endless fight for women's rights to the importance of maintaining an open mind and heart in all conversations, here are some of the most iconic quotes from the Notorious RBG.

On law:

"I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill—very much like a plumber. But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you."

- The Mercury News, February 6, 2017

"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time." - As quoted in "Notorious RBG" 

"Justice O'Connor had set the model. She had breast surgery and she was on the bench nine days after her surgery. She said, 'Now, Ruth, have your chemotherapy on a Friday. That way, you have the weekend to get over it'"  - Interview with CBS Sunday Morning's Jane Pauley, 2016

"Dissents speak to a future age. It's not simply to say, 'My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.' But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that's the dissenter's hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow." Interview with NPR, 2002

On love: 

"She said, 'Dear, in every good marriage it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.' And I followed that advice in dealing not only with my dear spouse but in dealing even with my colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court." — Ruth Bader Ginsburg on advice from her mother-in-law

"If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me." - The Washington Post, 2014

"It was lucky that I met Marty at a time when the best degree that a girl could have not her BA or her JD, it was her M-R-S." - WINK News, 2019

On the fight for equality: 

"Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception."  - CNN, 2009

"I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks."  - As quoted in the documentary "RBG"

"People ask me sometimes... 'When will there be enough women on the court?' And my answer is, 'When there are nine.' People are shocked, but there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that."  - Appearance at Georgetown University, 2015

"Think back to 1787. Who were 'we the people'? … They certainly weren't women … they surely weren't people held in human bondage. The genius of our Constitution is that over now more than 200 sometimes turbulent years that 'we' has expanded and expanded."

This Brighter Side of News post courtesy of CBS News.

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Joseph Shavit
Joseph ShavitSpace, Technology and Medical News Writer
Joseph Shavit is the head science news writer with a passion for communicating complex scientific discoveries to a broad audience. With a strong background in both science, business, product management, media leadership and entrepreneurship, Joseph possesses the unique ability to bridge the gap between business and technology, making intricate scientific concepts accessible and engaging to readers of all backgrounds.