The legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

The legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court The legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

September 20, 20202 min read

"The death of feminist icon and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a legacy both in her formal role as Supreme Court Justice and author of some of the most important legal opinions during her service, as well as an advocate for gender equity," says Teresa Boyer, EdD, founding director of Villanova University's Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership.

In her personal and professional life, Ginsburg created a map for women to be the equals of the most powerful leaders in our nation.

"By all accounts she was a brilliant legal mind, and from the start of her career she leveraged that mind to fight for the rights of those she felt were denied them, especially women," says Boyer. "Despite her decidedly liberal stance, she held a close personal friendship with her strongest conservative opposition on the Court, Antonin Scalia. Even with their intellectual differences, they held each other as equals, respecting each other’s work. In a time when cross-gender friendships were rare, especially where a woman was as powerful as a man, Ginsburg once again showed that gender needn’t dictate one’s status in life.”

“Although Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to sit on the nation’s highest court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the one that became a literal feminist icon," notes Boyer. "Ginsburg was unapologetically fierce in her opinions, both legal and otherwise. It is this ferocity which earned her the status Notorious RBG. Especially in the early days of Ginsburg’s career (and some would argue even today), women could hold opinions, but to be fierce and unapologetic about them was distinctly unfeminine."

The images of Ginsburg wearing her lace collar, lipstick and jewelry were a deliberate contrast, owning her femininity at the same time she owned her power. "That iconic image will be upheld for decades to come—and I suspect a run on black robes and lace collars for Halloween this year,” says Boyer.

To speak with Teresa Boyer, email

Connect with:
  • Teresa Boyer, EdD
    Teresa Boyer, EdD Founding Director, Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women's Leadership; Associate Professor, Education and Counseling

    Teresa Boyer, EdD, is an innovative leader in economic and social equity for women

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