Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo

ABA mourns trailblazing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 18, 2020

The American Bar Association mourns the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and expresses its deepest sympathy to her family.

Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday night at the age of 87, was a ground-breaking jurist, and only the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, where she served for 27 years. She served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1980-93 and was the first woman to be hired with tenure at Columbia University School of Law.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at “Searching for Equality: The 19th Amendment and Beyond” at Georgetown University Law Center on Feb. 10.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at “Searching for Equality: The 19th Amendment and Beyond” at Georgetown University Law Center on Feb. 10.

American Bar Association photo

Ginsburg was a special friend of the ABA, which honored her with many awards, including the Thurgood Marshall Award in 1999 in recognition of her development and advancement of gender equality law and the ABA’s highest honor, the American Bar Association Medal, in 2010. Ginsburg served as a member of the ABA Journal Board of Editors from 1972-78. She helped dedicate the ABA’s current office space in Washington, D.C., in 2013 and has a conference room there named in her honor.

As recently as February of this year, Ginsburg was involved with ABA programs, appearing at a 19th Amendment Centennial panel co-sponsored by the ABA and accepting the World Peace and Liberty Award from the World Law Foundation at the ABA D.C. offices. She also was a special advisor for 2020 to the ABA Rule of Law Initiative board.

Before her career as a jurist, she was a law professor who became the architect of the legal fight for women's rights in the 1970s. Ginsburg co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972 and participated in more than 300 gender discrimination cases by 1974. She argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976.

Ginsburg made vast and lasting contributions to the law and to the profession. She was a commanding voice as an advocate for gender equality and a tenacious protector of the rule of law. She inspired generations of young lawyers in her lifetime. Although she will be greatly missed, her legacy will continue to inspire future generations of lawyers.

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