“One thing I learned watching Justice Ginsburg’s fearless battles with cancer and injustice is that you never give up,” said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
REDFORD, MI—Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away following a long battle with pancreatic cancer, had a profound impact on Michiganders like Aimee Stephens. Stephens was the Michigander at the heart of a major summer US Supreme Court decision that extended employment protections to transgender Americans. That case, Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, was among the last Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would decide.
Justice Ginsburg died Friday. Her legacy will be felt through the Stephens decision and in innumerable other ways as her nearly 30 years of service on the Supreme Court will impact the lives of Michiganders forever.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a warrior for justice, a champion for women’s rights, and a fighter for peace,” Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, said in a statement. “As a Justice of the Supreme Court, she was wise and patient. Her decisions changed the course of history and we are all better having had her serve on the highest court.”
On issues of equality for all Americans and social causes, Ginsburg has made an impact even before her time on the Supreme Court, arguing cases as a lawyer that advanced gender equality. That passion carried on to her jurisprudence, and the ways her sharp legal mind influenced the Court.
“I am truly heartbroken at the news of Justice Ginsburg’s passing. Her intellect, her razor sharp wit, and her lifetime of service to our nation made her an inspiration to millions of Americans,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement emailed to The ‘Gander. “One thing I learned watching Justice Ginsburg’s fearless battles with cancer and injustice is that you never give up, and you never stop fighting for the values we hold dear as Americans.”
Progress Michigan is taking the call to keep fighting for American values to heart. Lonnie Scott, executive director of the organization, said it is taking part in an initiative called the “RBG Revolution” to help safeguard the justice’s legacy.
“Our rights and our lives are on the line,” Scott told The ‘Gander. “The next justice confirmed to the Supreme Court could be the deciding vote on reproductive freedom, healthcare access, and voting rights, and it’s imperative that we prevent Trump from prematurely filling this vacancy. With a pre-Roe abortion ban on the books in Michigan, we cannot afford to go back.”
That’s in keeping with Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish, according to her granddaughter. She didn’t want the vacancy filled until the American people voted Nov. 3. Voting that, as Scott pointed out, is already underway.
“This isn’t pre-election 2020, the election has already started and people are voting right now in states around the country, including Michigan,” she said. “We demand that the U.S. Senate honor the will of the people and we remain committed to fighting for state-level reforms that will ensure Michiganians’ rights are safe even if federal protections are eventually overturned.”
Beyond Progress Michigan’s efforts, the call to never stop fighting for equality and justice has been taken up in the days since Ginsburg’s passing all across Michigan, reports the Detroit Free Press.
“I felt a sense of sadness,” Desiré Vincent Levy told the Free Press, “but then after a few minutes of processing, … the best way I could describe it was like this fire in my belly.”
Vincent Levy has answered that call by working with the American Civil Liberties Union’s election protection program in Michigan. With that program, she educates voters about the right to request mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would like to double down and say we can’t afford to lose hope,” she said. “Look at the history of the United States, my ancestors, the history of Black people, the history of women. We’ve been through so many things. The tides have changed but we have to keep moving things forward, and people who can hold on to their hope can also inspire other people when they fall down and when they’re not able to.”
Ginsburg’s death, Vincent Levy said, only redoubles her personal commitment to live her life and make a difference, following the justice’s example.