RIP RBG


Happy fall, y'all. The first day of the most beautiful season in Atlanta comes shrouded by the sad news that we lost an icon over the weekend. It hit many of us hard. I've heard from friends who screamed so loudly they scared their dogs. I blurted out an expletive, which prompted a scolding by the lovely 12-year-old daughter of the family with whom we were celebrating Rosh Hashana. In a weird way, I needed to be reminded that I'm an adult, because I was on the verge of a total meltdown. After they left, the tears came. Like, ugly tears and heaving sobs. I simply wasn't ready. Not with Covid and wildfires, hurricanes and civil unrest. It's just too much. But the overarching theme of the texts and emails from friends and family was that it's on us to carry on her legacy. And that helped. There are one-named celebrities like Cher and Madonna. And then there are those who need only three initials. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the Notorious RBG. And I adored her on so many levels. Like my father, she loved the law. Yet, although she graduated first in her class from Columbia Law School (where my father also attended), no law firm would hire her. She had three strikes against her: She was a Jew, a woman and a mother. With no job prospects, RBG went on to teach, which was the first career of my mother and grandmother. As a law professor at Rutgers Law School and also Columbia, she famously fought for gender equality, challenging laws that seemingly protected women, but actually discriminated against them. In fact, she even fought on behalf of a man who had been denied a caregiver deduction because of his gender. In PR we say that if you don't like what they're saying, change the conversation. At just over five feet, RBG was an unlikely larger-than-life crusader. She got herself into good trouble for her work as co-founder of the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU, making significant legal advances for women under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. She fought for the right to choose. President Jimmy Carter nominated her to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. And Orrin Hatch, the Republican Senator from Utah, suggested to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno (a Miami girl, like me) that she recommend her to President Bill Clinton to fill a seat on the Supreme Court. Following Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, RBG would be the second woman on the high court. She would also be its first Jewish female, and would go on to be the longest-serving Jewish justice. She was viewed at the onset as moderate, but over time she ascended to the court's "liberal wing." Still, one of her dearest friends was conservative Judge Antonin Scalia, with whom she shared a love of opera. RBG was famously portrayed on SNL by Kate McKinnon, who slung insults called "Ginsburns." She was the subject of the documentary "RBG," and the feature film, "On The Basis of Sex." There's even a beer named after her called "When There Are Nine," referring to her notorious reply to the question about when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court. RBG died on the eve of the Jewish New Year, which rabbis and scholars suggest put her among the most righteous people who die at the very end of the year because they were needed until the very end. RIP RBG.

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