These Students Are Carrying Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy Forward

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Culture & Conversation Law and Policy

These Students Are Carrying Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy Forward

Rewire News Group Staff

"She made room for future lawyers like me who seek to dedicate their legal career to work that lifts the metaphorical 'knee' off of the necks of the most vulnerable among us."

For more on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, check out our special report.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nothing short of a giant in the law who dedicated her life and her career to breaking down barriers of gender inequality. From founding the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union to spending nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court advocating for civil rights, few if any can match the contributions Ginsburg made to both the law and our collective history.

News of her death last week first brought shockwaves of grief and concern. Although Ginsburg had slowly managed to get the law to recognize gender equality, and more specifically the harm that discrimination on the basis of sex and gender creates, so much work remains.

So what now? Don’t despair. Meet a few of the law students ready to carry Ginsburg’s legacy.

Bridget Winkler
American University Washington College of Law, class of 2021

[PHOTO: Bridget Winkler]For me, Justice Ginsburg’s greatest legacy is her courage of conviction. Against the odds of gender discrimination in the legal profession and as a mother of young children, Justice Ginsburg’s taciturn wisdom, clarion interpretation of the law, and brilliant legal prowess demanded her entry into the rooms where the most consequential decisions are made.

Her contributions to social justice, particularly in regard to women’s rights and reproductive justice, cannot be understated. Like many of my peers, I am fearful for the future of our country but intend to harness that fear into the same unwavering moral conviction that Justice Ginsburg possessed by calling on leaders in the legal profession to protect our judiciary in this moment.

Adding to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote, Justice Ginsburg once said that “‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,’” but only “if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.” The future of the legal profession is committed to honoring Justice Ginsburg’s legacy by seeing this pursuit of justice through to completion.

Pilar Margarita Hernández Escontrías, PhD, JD
University of California at Irvine School of Law, class of 2020

[PHOTO: Pilar Margarita Hernández Escontrías]Today, many remember Justice Ginsburg’s pioneering voice for women’s rights; others rightfully reflect on her relative silence in dismantling white supremacy in society, in the law, and in her cherished friends. And many of us mourn her death in solemn recognition that our futures may be shrouded in violence, oppression, and death in the decades to come, just as they have been in the centuries before.

Despite this, BIPOC have known for generations that the project of liberation must never be placed in one person’s hands. Keenly aware of how justice presents most powerfully as community, we feel deeply every loss we experience to death, exhaustion, and exile that drives us further away from what it means to demand more of ourselves and of each other.

Limayli Huguet, JD
American University Washington College of Law, class of 2020

[PHOTO: Limayli Huguet]As a queer Latina, daughter of immigrants, and first-generation lawyer who entered law school three years ago without any prior knowledge of how the legal system operated, Justice Ginsburg inspired me for her grit in fighting for things she cared about and [for] taking a seat at the table when she was unwelcomed and unwanted. The decades Justice Ginsburg spent as a lawyer, and later as a justice on the Supreme Court, mean so much to me as a woman and lawyer who often feels unwelcome in the legal profession.

I am entering the profession as a young reproductive justice lawyer just months after our narrow victory in the June Medical Services v. Russo case, but the reality is that reproductive health care, especially abortion care, remains inaccessible for so many Americans. So as I mourn the loss of a legal giant who paved the way for lawyers like me, I will channel my grief and anger into continuing the fight for reproductive justice. It’s what she would have wanted and how I will honor her legacy.

Octavia L. Carson, JD
Thomas Jefferson School of Law, class of 2020

[PHOTO: Octavia L. Carson]A day after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death was announced, I woke up mad as hell but feeling extremely liberated. Justice Ginsburg’s legacy helps me to illuminate and embrace my progressive ideology—an ideology that some would call radical but that I consider an organic expression of basic human rights. She made room for future lawyers like me who seek to dedicate their legal career to work that lifts the metaphorical “knee” off of the necks of the most vulnerable among us.


Yara Calcaño
American University Washington College of Law, class of 2021

[PHOTO: Yara Calcaño]Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s candor, eloquence, and intelligence showed me that not only can women aspire to sit at any table, but [also] that we can and should speak loudly at the table to make our voices heard and count. She was a relentless advocate for women, for voting rights, and for the poor in an environment that usually brushed off the imminent need for social change for those populations.

In our judiciary, in our legislature, in our executive office, and in our communities, we must honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s example and continue to advocate for equality, equity, and justice. I know that her legacy will continue to inspire women and girls to speak loudly and to be present at all tables where decisions are being made.

Jaclyn J. Serpico
Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law, class of 2022

[PHOTO: Jaclyn J. Serpico]Over the past decade, I’ve watched my state government mount a relentless assault on abortion access, and I’ve watched as incredible lawyers and advocates have pushed back every step of the way. We in Ohio stand on the shoulders of giants like RBG, who showed us all how to fight for something unprecedented. As a future lawyer, I’ve been inspired by RBG’s foundational work for equality under the law. We honor her legacy by building on that foundation, moving beyond equality to fight for equity and justice.

Charles Fraser
American University Washington College of Law, class of 2021

[PHOTO: Charles Fraser]Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a force to be reckoned with. She served as an inspiration to all people, regardless of race, gender, or background. I was not fully aware of Justice Ginsburg’s legacy until I started law school two years ago and began to fully understand the vitality of the Supreme Court and [the] influence each justice has on the future of our country.

Throughout her career, she fought to eliminate discrimination and push toward a reality of equality for all. This, for me, is the definition of a true American icon. Justice Ginsburg’s legacy has inspired me to understand that my voice matters and is important to help effectuate change, no matter what my role may be personally and professionally.