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Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Closing of the Civil Rights Era?

By Rodney K Strong Esq.

Presented by Omni-University


Daniel 5:6, 25-26 (6) In the same  hour came forth fingers of a man's hand and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.(25) And this is the writing  that was written, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.(26) This is the interpretation of the  thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy  kingdom and finished it.[1]

The recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has produced a crisis in civil rights in the United States. Justice Ginsburg, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton, came to the court having already established herself as a legend in the legal profession. She was the first woman to serve as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After transferring to Columbia Law School, she graduated in the top percentile of her class. Despite those credentials, she struggled to find a job because of her gender. No New York law firms made her an offer. Ultimately, with the assistance of a Columbia law professor, she obtained a prestigious federal judicial clerkship and then became a law professor at Rutgers Law School, where she gained tenure. These experiences helped shape her into an advocate for women’s rights.


Professor Ginsburg published two law review articles and taught a seminar on gender discrimination in 1971. The seminar led to Professor Ginsburg's drafting two briefs, in partnership with The American Civil Liberties Union, involving gender discrimination in federal cases. One of the cases Professor Ginsberg briefed, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Reed, was the first case in which a gender-based statute was struck down based on the ,"equal protection clause".


During the remainder of the 1970s, Professor Ginsburg was a leading figure in gender-discrimination litigation. In 1972, she founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and co-authored a law-school casebook on gender discrimination. She later became the first tenured female faculty member at Columbia Law School. Additionally, throughout the 1970s she argued before the Supreme Court six times, winning five cases. President Jimmy Carter appointed Professor Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in 1980, where she served until she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1992.

Justice Ginsburg became the leading defender of civil rights on the Supreme Court. She had several notable decisions and dissents. The most notable dissent was in Shelby County v. Holder. In Holder, The Supreme Court invalidated the “coverage formula” which named jurisdictions that had to pass federal scrutiny ,under the Voting Rights Act, if they wanted to pass any new elections or voting laws. Those jurisdictions were selected based on their having had a history of discrimination in voting. That decision also left it to Congress to "come up with" new criteria for coverage. This has not happened- and will not happen- while Republicans control the Senate as well as the Executive Branch.


In practice, the decision means that communities facing new discriminatory voting laws have had to: (1). file suits themselves, or, (2). rely on Justice Department suits, or (3). depend on challenges from outside advocates- most often after the discriminatory laws have already taken effect. The Supreme Court's decision, in Holder, paved the way for the voter suppression practices we see today.

Justice Ginsberg predicted the massive voter suppression techniques employed today in her dissent in Holder:


“The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA [Voting Rights Act] has proven effective. The Court appears to believe that the VRA’s success in eliminating the specific devices extant in 1965 means that preclearance is no longer needed…. With that belief, and the argument derived from it, history repeats itself. The same assumption—that the problem could be solved when particular methods of voting discrimination are identified and eliminated—was indulged and proved wrong repeatedly prior to the VRA’s enactment. Unlike prior statutes, which singled out particular tests or devices, the VRA is grounded in Congress’ recognition of the “variety and persistence” of measures designed to impair minority voting rights. Katzenbach, 383 U. S., at 311; supra, at 2. In truth, the evolution of voting discrimination into more subtle second-generation barriers is powerful evidence that a remedy as effective as preclearance remains vital to protect minority voting rights and prevent backsliding.”

Prior to the demise of Justice Ginsburg, the racial conservatives had a 5-4 majority on the court. With the "all-but-certain appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whose hostility to civil rights is well- documented, the legal pillars erected in the Supreme Court during the classic civil rights movement, are certain to see further erosion. 

Justice Ginsburg, following in the footsteps and building on the work of the Howard Law School and the NAACP in 14th amendment "equal protection law", extended rights to women and the LGBTQ community, as well. With her untimely death, all that Justice Ruth  Bader Ginsberg worked for is threatened. The future of civil rights litigation before the Supreme Court is bleak.  The upcoming election will determine, for many years to come, the fate of civil rights- as well as that of Black people, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and others. These are the marginalized communities, in this country, who have not been "endowed... with [the] certain unalienable rights" afforded by the Founding Fathers to their counterparts. The only question that remains- the only one that matters on this Pass/ Fail Test- is the one raised by Ancestor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1967 book: "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? 


You are invited to watch "Injustice For All: The Series - Part 2" featuring: Marian Perkins J.D.,

and Mary L. Johnson on Omni-U Presents: The H3O Art of Life Show.



"Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel?" Paul Robeson

Blognotes: [1 ]Provided by Omni-U Virtual Faculty member, Dr. Josef Ben Levi:

"This text is written in Aramic. Here is what it means: MENE-...is a large weight and is related to the word "count". Tekel-from the word shekel-.is  related to the word weight... Parsin- two spheres with one sphere equaling a half-shekel. It is interpreted as "divide".... 

Recommended  Readings: 1.Rev.Dr. Martin  Luther King,Jr.,"Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

2. The Book of Daniel Chapter 6 KJV 3. Ancestor Lerone Bennett, Jr. , "Forced into Glory"

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