The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a terrible loss for our nation in so many ways. I know that while Justice Ginsburg holds a special place in all of our hearts, as the second woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court, and as an accomplished attorney who had advanced the cause of gender equity before she was ever a judge, her work has been particularly meaningful to women everywhere.
I am fortunate to have and have had several strong, talented women on my team for many years. So, I asked the women who have been on my staff, past and present, if they would share their thoughts about RBG. I am glad I did, and I hope you enjoy reading these tributes as much as I did.
Commissioner Devan Allen, District Director & Campaign Manager, 2012-2016:
“I am still processing, grieving and figuring out my words. About 10 years ago I had the honor of hearing RBG speak at a lecture series at SMU. From that point on she became a mentor of mine. Of course, she didn’t know that, but whatever (smile). During my 2018 campaign for county commissioner, I saw the RBG movie three times. It was the only ‘free time’ I really allowed myself and that was okay with me, for I loved showing up for what I believed in, every single day. I’ve long since been inspired by RBG and especially during that time, when I was being tested – as a woman, a black woman, a young(er) black woman who was pursuing elected office. Seeing Justice Ginsburg, SHE, her work, on screen, being unapologetically herself in sacrifice and gain, encouraged me immensely. I’ll forever be grateful for her quiet determination. I will miss learning from her in real life.”
Emily Amps, Chief of Staff, 2009-present:
“In graduate school, I had the honor of meeting Justice Ginsburg who spoke to my class during a visit to the Supreme Court. She was kind, approachable and genuinely interested in hearing what a group of 20-somethings thought about the state of the world and the impact of the Court. Back then, I didn’t realize the profound impact she would have on my life or the groundwork she had and would lay for countless generations of women to follow. Like millions of Americans, I am still reeling from the news of her death and reminded that her work to defend equal rights and human rights could be quickly chipped away. But, I am also reminded that she did not do this work alone, and that women just like me must pick up the torch and continue the fight. After all, it was Justice Ginsburg who said, ‘Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.’ She sure made some incredible strides. Now it’s time for us to continue in her footsteps.”
Tammy Dubberke, Director of Constituent Services, 2009 – Present:
“If one’s legacy is to be built of the differences we make for our community, Justice Ginsburg towers above most. Her attitude and eloquent thoughts honor her well and share how she hoped to be remembered. Below are just a few of my favorite of her quotes:
‘To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you, that’s what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself but for one’s community.’
‘I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.’
‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.’”
Emily Englander, Executive Assistant on the 2014 Wendy Davis for Governor Campaign:
“As a young Jewish woman, it is hard to put into words the impact Justice Ginsburg has had on my life and so many others. In her chambers she had the words ‘Tzedek, tzedek tirdof – justice, justice you shall pursue’ hanging on her wall. These words that inspired and embodied her work every day have done the same for me. These words are the words I uttered from my Torah portion during my Bat Mitzvah as I ‘became a woman.’ These words inspired me to fight for justice and what is right every day. Because of her, I always knew a little Jewish girl could be mighty, strong, and achieve great success for doing what is just. Justice Ginsburg is the embodiment of ‘Eshet Chayil,’ a woman of valor. And it is no coincidence that Jewish tradition teaches that an individual who passes away on Rosh Hashanah is a ‘tzaddik,’ a righteous person. Baruch Dayan HaEmet – May her memory be a blessing.”
Haley Entrop, Legislative Assistant, 2017-2019:
“My heart is heavy for her loss as a judge and as a woman. I remember most her time as an educator, teaching civil law to her students and helping to prepare another generation of lawyers. I think that most speaks to her legacy. She was not just sage counsel and a defender of the Constitution, she was a teacher. She taught her students, and she also taught us, through her time on the Court, how to persevere past discrimination. She taught us the importance of our democracy’s foundations. She taught us that people are always deserving of protection from forces of hate and bigotry. She taught us that compassion is a skill, and one that should be used often.
“What I’m thinking about most often, in mourning her passing, is how we cannot let it simply be that: mourning her passing. We are not given the room and space to simply grieve for a life lost, and an important one at that. We are thrown into politicization of her position on the bench, with Senate Republicans sharing 80 minutes after her death that they plan to more forward with replacing her. I think she would be ashamed to see them fighting so desperately to pack the courts, as they’re intended to be devoid of partisan politics. It hurts even more that we cannot simply let it hurt. We must immediately move into action to protect her seat until January, and continue organizing and campaigning for people to appoint someone who will truly uphold the Constitution. It hurts now but there is no time to rest, because we have to carry her torch. We have to fight for people that would protect her legacy and carry out her vision for the country because she deserves that much, and so do we.
“I have a lot of thoughts on this occasion, but I’ll mostly just plain miss a female inspiration of mine. So few women have been so integral in protecting our country and our democracy. We are all better for having Justice Ginsburg be one of them.”
Terrysa Guerra, Campaign Manager, 2010:
“The news of RBG’s passing was devastating to say the least. RBG was a 5’1” giant who paved the way for all women and inspired women like me to pursue leadership. She was our country’s conscience. She represented that last line of defense against an administration that has taken our country and democracy down a dark path. I didn’t have much time to mourn for her. I hope the enormous amount of work we have to do in the next 44 days will be in tribute to her.”
Megan McGilberry, Finance Director, 2015-Present:
“I think what I learned most of all from Justice Ginsburg is that we can’t wait for moments of injustice against women to correct wrongs and level the playing field, but we can be stronger and more deliberate in our advocacy by setting the precedent that injustice among one of us is an injustice among all of us. She saw discrimination against both men and women equally and as an opportunity to lift us all up. She was brilliant and strategic in her work in way that she knew would likely outlive her.”
Cara Santucci, Communications Director for the House Democratic Caucus, 2020 – present
“I don’t know how to put into words how meaningful Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life was, and how devastating her passing is. All I can say is, I’ve seen a lot of people go through her work through the years and point out areas where her decisions were flawed or her votes were disappointing. And actually, what better way to honor the life of someone who always believed in the power of dissent than by refusing to posthumously repaint her into a flawless bastion of civil rights. She wasn’t perfect. But she was a force whose pioneering spirit and sense of conviction have touched all of our lives in some way. She will be dearly missed.”