For Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-1920)

September 21, 2020

It takes courage to stand for something. And even more to fight for what you stand for. And it takes a remarkable amount of courage to fight in a way that reflects a deep, abiding sense of honor, consistency and fairness.

What I admired most about Justice Ginsburg was the equity in her fight for equity.

Her first big case was a challenge to a law that barred a Colorado man named Charles Moritz from taking a tax deduction for the care of his 89-year-old mother. The IRS said the deduction, by statute, could only be claimed by a woman, or a widowed or divorced man. But Moritz had never married. The solution was to ask the court not to invalidate the statute, but to apply it equally to both sexes and she won in the lower courts. When the government petitioned the US Supreme Court, stating that the decision “cast a cloud of unconstitutionality” over literally hundreds of federal statutes (and it attached a full list of those statutes), it became the road map for Justice Ginsburg’s career.

As President Obama said, “Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract idea of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It is about who we are and who we can be.”

That to me was the point of Justice Ginsburg’s lifelong fight against injustice and inequity—the idea that if we as a society treat anyone as “less than,” the entire underpinning of who we are as a people is at risk. Equity has always mattered a great deal to me—the simple (and apparently complicated) fairness in our treatment of people.

And equity has been the foundation for the work of The Fedcap Group since its inception in 1935—where our founders fought against discrimination in the workplace for people with disabilities.

Justice Ginsburg’s life and, possibly even more so, her death, are a challenge to every one of us. “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes

light, rare, sterile.

We breathe,


Our eyes, briefly,

see with

a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,


gnaws on kind words


promised walks

never taken.

Great souls die and

our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their


now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their


fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance

of dark, cold


And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.

Maya Angelou