By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer
The mark of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and career is paying dividends in Prince George’s County. Just 50 years ago, the thought of two women serving in the nation’s high court was nearly unfathomable. For many, it was also totally inconceivable in 1970 that two African-American women would be the most powerful authorities in the county one day.
That time is now. Ginsburg’s work in the Supreme Court, where she sat for 27 years before her death on Sept. 18, led to landmark rulings that levelled the playing field for gender equality in the workplace. Justice Ginsburg became a social icon known as the “Notorious R.B.G.” because of her powerful dissents, specifically the repeals to provisions of the Voting Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.
“Her advocacy for women’s rights was instrumental in helping us make progress on gender equality over the past several decades,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. “Justice Ginsburg helped carve a path forward for so many women leaders that we see today, and her voice and advocacy will be sorely missed.”
Among the current role models for female justice are Alsobrooks and State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy. The county’s two most influential public officials understand what she meant to the court and how her death may not only pave the way for sweeping changes to basic rights, it could alter the justice system moving forward.
“She recognized that the court had to reflect the values of the people,” said Braveboy. “She was a leader for women and people who wanted to fight against the machine and she didn’t play into anything that was too political.”
Though small in stature, Ginsburg’s liberal voice remained large even as the court grew more conservative. She was the lone justice who gained mass appeal for opposition to the leanings of the majority of her peers on the court.
“She stood up for women, those who had disabilities, minorities and voting rights,” Braveboy said. “This is a woman whose legacy will be felt for generations to come.”
Braveboy is concerned, however, that a new conservative appointment to the High Court would have ramifications that may turn back the hands of time. Roe vs. Wade, the landmark abortion decision, is under the right wing microscope, as is Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is vowing to fast track Ginsburg’s replacement before the November elections, which defies her wishes for the next president to nominate her successor. However, President Donald J. Trump has said he would be nominating another woman to replace Ginsburg.
“If there is another conservative justice appointment, an idealog, swinging the court from 5-4 to 6-3 there is a problem for anyone who isn’t a White male,” Braveboy said. “The future for people of color and those with disabilities will face major issues if the court moves farther to the right.”
“My only hope is that she is replaced by the nominee of the next president who is elected, and not the one who currently stays at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”