A Kid Named Kiki: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy Of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We expect the nomination of her replacement this week and what could be the most heated confirmation process in history.  We may look back at Bork and Kavanaugh as examples of bipartisan tranquility by comparison. As Washington returns to its favorite blood sport, many will continue to mourn the loss of an extraordinary jurist.

Here is the column:

Many years ago, I spoke at a judicial conference and mentioned with pride at lunch that George Washington University graduated the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court. I had barely spoken the name of Belva Ann Lockwood when a barely audible voice came from across the table saying, “Well, of course, they withheld her diploma.”

The voice was that of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and, as usual, she had delivered a haymaker in a virtual whisper. I had the honor of meeting her many times, but that incident was the ultimate “RBG” moment for me. She was always direct and honest. And she was right. We could claim to have done what other schools refused to do, but we failed to entirely evolve in the moment. Lockwood laid the foundation for the transformation of the Supreme Court. Ginsburg was that transformation.

My favorite fact about Ginsburg is her childhood nickname. Born Joan Ruth Bader, her parents had teachers call her Ruth due to a large number of Joans in her class. But her nickname was Kiki due to that fact that she was a “kicky baby.” When it came to facing down injustice, Ginsburg was kicky, scrappy and, above all, courageous in her life.

After graduating at the top of her class from Columbia University, she had difficulty finding a job as one of the few women with her cohort. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, despite being a former Harvard University law professor, refused to hire her as a clerk due to her gender, even with the recommendation of legendary dean Albert Sacks. Ginsburg refused to be bowed by the prejudice of figures like Frankfurter.

Instead, Ginsburg kept kicking. She was a great advocate for the rights of women and then later became a federal judge on the District of Columbia Circuit. She was nominated to replace Justice Byron White as the second woman to sit on the Supreme Court. While Ginsburg became the ultimate liberal icon, she was selected by President Clinton as a moderate who was envisioned to reflect his own more moderate politics.

Ginsburg would go on and prove to be one of the most consistent jurists in Supreme Court history. She had a sense of a legal “north star” to which she wanted to lead her judicial decisions and the nation as a whole. That is why her loss is felt so profoundly by so many. She was a voice of absolute clarity and consistency. Indeed, her opinions were like herself, unadorned and unyielding. She had the strength of her convictions, and her opinions reflected that strength to millions of men and women.

On occasion, I was critical of both Ginsburg and her close friend and fellow justice, the late Antonin Scalia, for their public statements about cases or politics. Yet both became icons to millions of Americans. I once called them the first celebrity justices who had a fan base that had been unknown for members of the cloistered Supreme Court. As opposed as I am of public statements by sitting justices, I was still moved to see how young people reacted when this powerful yet diminutive figure walked into a room. She was more than a jurist because she personified what many saw as the transcendent potential for justice in society.

Ginsburg left an indelible legacy in Supreme Court decisions, like in her majority opinion in United States versus Virginia, striking down the “men only” admissions policy at the Virginia Military Institute under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Her life, including the discrimination she had faced, prepared her for that moment.

As an environmentalist, one of my favorite opinions of hers was Friends of Earth versus Laidlaw Environmental Services, in which Ginsburg wrote for the majority to support the right of residents to sue an industrial polluter. She insisted that citizens must be heard when pollution threatened their “recreational, aesthetic, and economic interests” in nature.

While Ginsburg was not known for broad or prosaic opinions, she became a judicial symbol in her own right. She was the common denominator on the bench in opinions mandating equality and dignity for all groups and genders. She varied little in her votes and was always there for the rights of women and for the protection of minority populations.

It is that clarity and consistency that makes her possible replacement by President Trump seem so cataclysmic to liberals, especially just weeks before the election. For liberals, it is the nightmare scenario that I wrote about during the final term of President Obama, when Ginsburg resisted pressure to retire. At the time, she declared that she had more to do on the Supreme Court, and she did. Ginsburg went on to secure surprising victories even as the Supreme Court shifted to the right.

Now, however, her replacement by Trump would set at risk an array of doctrines that dangle by swing votes, from abortion rights to affirmative action in college admissions to death penalty issues. If she is replaced by a staunch conservative, it would represent arguably the most significant nomination in the history of the modern Supreme Court.

Indeed, that battle began within hours of her death, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a floor vote for a nomination, while Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Democratic candidate Joe Biden insisted the next president should pick her replacement. There are Senate Republicans such as Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Charles Grassley of Iowa, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska who are on the record as opposing a nomination so close to an election. Given this fleeting chance for a reliable vote against Roe versus Wade, those positions could be tested in the weeks to come.

Even without a closely divided Supreme Court, any replacement of her would be traumatic for millions of Americans. There is no replacing her, and we all know it. She is the type of personality that comes only a few times in history. Ginsburg defied prejudice and instead bent it to her will, with the sheer power of one person who refused to yield.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.

78 thoughts on “A Kid Named Kiki: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy Of Ruth Bader Ginsburg”

  1. with another appointment, Republicans will have a STRANGLEHOLD on the SCOTUS


    great music from the notorious Ted Nugent a Republican

    Here I come again now baby
    Like a dog in heat
    Tell it’s me by the clamor now baby
    I like to tear up the street
    Now I been smokin’ for so long
    You know I’m here to stay
    Got you in a stranglehold baby
    You best get oughta the way

  2. “The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers…of all men to the extent they desire to know. But in fact, this includes only a few, the true friends, as Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good…They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found…This is the meaning of the riddle of the improbable philosopher-kings. They have a true community that is exemplary for all other communities.” Allan Bloom “The Closing of the American Mind”.

    I am a lifelong, serious, conservative who completely appreciated Justice Ruth Bader Ginzburg for the true believer she was. Not apologizing to anyone for that.

    1. “I am a lifelong, serious, conservative who completely appreciated Justice Ruth Bader Ginzburg for the true believer she was. Not apologizing to anyone for that.”
      Read Hoffer’s classic “The True Believe” and then see that the term doesn’t mean what you think it does yet your statement might be inadvertently factually accurate.

  3. Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter, needs to start walking south and keep on walking.

    She has ceased being amusing.

    1. I think Mr Benson needs to get working on those citations he owes Paul Schulte and leave Squeeky alone.

  4. This abortion advocate and unconstitutional affirmative action promoting communist (liberal, progressive, socialist, democrat, RINO) committed a mortal sin by denigrating and disparaging, to a foreign audience in a foreign country, the U.S. Constitution, which she solemnly swore, by law, to support. There are no two ways about it, Ginsburg opposed and disapproved of the Constitution. An appropriate statement in support of the Constitution would have been a recommendation for the full, unmitigated and absolute implementation of the that fundamental law. Ginsburg deliberately and cavalierly failed to do so.

    “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”

    “I might look at the constitution of South Africa…”

    – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2012

  5. ‘Evidently, RBG’s dying “most fervent” wish that she expressed to her granddaughter Clara was that she would not be replaced until a new President was installed’

    If so, then why didn’t she retire while Obama was President and the Democratic Party controlled the Senate, if she truly wished that she did not want to be replaced by a Republican president?

      1. Who’s the “blithering idiot” now?

        Three sane predictors for your perusal:

        1. Helmut Norpoth

        Norpoth, a political science professor at Stony Brook University in New York, predicted nearly nine months before the election that Trump had a 97 percent chance of pulling out a win over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

        2. Michael Moore

        Yes, that Michael Moore. The liberal documentarian wrote in an article on his website in July titled “5 Reasons Trump Will Win.”

        3. Allan Lichtman

        The American University history professor told the Washington Post in September that Trump was headed toward a victory.

        – Boston Globe

  6. When she was in grade school boys referred to her as Ruthy Toothy and ranted:. ” Shut the ukFay up Toothy!”

  7. Again, as I said before, Trump should nominate.
    Biden should name who he would nominate.
    Take it to the voters as this is a 25-30 year impact decision. Not mostly short term until new administration comes in and changes legislatiin they dislike (ie PPACA).
    Voters decide whose nominee and candidate they prefer.

    Will it happen. Trump will nominate.
    I believe there is a good possibility that senators like Gardner (CO) , Collins (ME) and a few other republicans will not support a confirmation vote, so it wont happen.
    NO WAY Biden will name. ( Could he remember the name during the debate or have a Rick Perry “OOPS” debate moment?)

    1. “Could he remember the name during the debate or have a Rick Perry “OOPS” debate moment?”

      Biden’s memory is better than Trump’s. Nor does he make as many gaffes.

  8. Mespo, for the record I said and stand by my comment:

    Dear JT, you sleazy hack, please GFY. Do it now and often. Thanks

    If he types something reflecting an inkling of moral courage – hey, even awareness would help – I’ll respond. Until then, that’s the proper consideration of his column.

  9. Oh please stop the heroine worship of the old biddy. She was nothing but a shrill partisan hack, and she is probably having chats with Hitler and Jack the Ripper on whatever rungs of Hell they occupy, in between jabs in the rear end with pitchfork wielding demons.

    I know you are not supposed to say bad (true) things about the recently dead, but there is no requirement for enthusiastic lying either. Criminy, but I am waiting for paid mourners like they do in North Korea.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. She doesn’t need paid mourners, Squeeky.
      There are many people who honestly mourn her. I’m one of them.
      In fact, many more members of the public have already turned out to mourn her in front of the Supreme Court than turned out to mourn Scalia there.

      Why do you keep referring to yourself as a “girl”? Choose to act like an adult and identify yourself as an adult, Squeeky.

        1. That you believe something doesn’t make it true, Squeeky.

          And I see that you can’t bring yourself to say why you keep referring to yourself as a “girl.”

            1. So will you refer to yourself as “shrill partisan hack” because you can, just as you refer to others that way?

              That you can do something doesn’t imply that you should do it. You can choose not to use sexist terms towards other women, and you can also choose to refer to yourself as an adult woman.

              1. No, because I am the furthest thing from a partisan hack. I used to be a Democrat and am still pretty progressive on many financial issues. I was for Hillary until the email idiocy and Trump entering the race. Heck, I even worked some on Hillary’s 2008 campaign. So no, I am hardly partisan. And I am not unaware of Republican nuttiness. But anybody with any sense can see that the Democrats have basically become an ongoing criminal enterprise, and pretty much just plain nutz.

                That is why there is a #walkaway movement.

                Squeeky Fromm
                Girl Reporter

                1. So you’re choosing not to call yourself a “shrill partisan hack.”
                  You have the same power not to call yourself a girl.

                  Squeaky Fromme was part of the Manson cult. She tried to assassinate a President.
                  You’re choosing to be part of the Trump cult. Hopefully you’re less criminally inclined than your namesake.

                  1. CTHD, Sadie Mae reveals herself as a PUMA or older female personality cult type who hated Obama from within the Democratic Party. Dollars to donuts she watches Jimmy Dore and has convinced her self that Trump is a populist while taking away health care and giving away trillions in rich guy tax breaks to people like Ivanka. Either that or at least he’s white.

                    1. I’ve seen PUMA for “Party Unity My Ass,” but what does PUMA stand for with women?

                      With women, I’m only familiar with “puma” as a middle-aged woman who likes to date younger men and isn’t old enough to be a “cougar.”

                  2. Kudos on your ability to spell her name correctly! That is why I always say “Girl Reporter” so people can tell us apart. Plus, I think all women are somewhat sociopathic. It’s part of the necessary narcissistic spectrum needed to reproduce. I am less sociopathic than most women because I am not in competition for any man’s attention and I am not trying to reproduce.

                    Squeeky Fromm
                    Girl Reporter

                    1. “I always say “Girl Reporter” so people can tell us apart”

                      Or, you could stop using a namesake who’s an attempted assassin and cult follower. Not a hard choice.

                      “I think all women are somewhat sociopathic”

                      What a misogynistic comment.

                      “It’s part of the necessary narcissistic spectrum needed to reproduce.”

                      No doubt you think the same of men and reproduction. /s

                      Here’s an idea: some men and women are sociopaths. Most aren’t. Some men and women are narcissists. Most aren’t. Neither sociopathy nor narcissism are “needed to reproduce.”

                      BTW, Trump is a malignant narcissist, and one of the key features that distinguishes malignant narcissism from typical narcissism is sociopathy. Duty To Warn: “MN [malignant narcissism] is comprised of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy, paranoia, and sadism. It’s a cocktail of disorders, thus a syndrome.”

  10. After graduating at the top of her class from Columbia University, she had difficulty finding a job as one of the few women with her cohort. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, despite being a former Harvard University law professor, refused to hire her as a clerk due to her gender, even with the recommendation of legendary dean Albert Sacks. Ginsburg refused to be bowed by the prejudice of figures like Frankfurter.

    In forty years as a federal judge, RBG hired one black clerk. While we’re at it, how many evangelicals did she, Breyer, and Kagan hire?

    When someone says ‘prejudice’, they mean ‘someone has a bias against one from my preferred client populations’. Anyone else is fair game for ‘discrimination’.

    And, guess what? No firm has to ‘hire’ you for you to practice law. In 1955, the established firms in my home town seldom if ever hired Jews or Italians. So, the Jews and Italians practiced solo or formed partnerships with each other. Ginsburg could never be bothered with that. She held a series of academic positions over 20 odd year, practicing as a ‘public interest lawyer’ (i.e. litigious nuisance) on the side. Then she went into the appellate judiciary with no time put in as a trial judge. She had very little history with the gritty business of law practice.

    All this blather about her as an advocate of ‘women’s rights’ is so much humbug. Ginsburg would have been of age to hold a job around 1948. At that time, there were no peculiar impairments to an adult woman’s discretion and autonomy incorporated into statutory law. Women were not subject to ex post facto laws or bills of attainder, habeas corpus applied to them as it did to men; they could worship, speak, publish, assemble, and petition; they could keep and bear arms as freely as men could; a home in their name was no less inviolate than was the home of a man; they were subject to the same legal procedures; they could travel just as freely; they could hold property and contract just as freely. They could sit for any occupational licensing examination. Their access to publicly financed education differed from men’s only on the margin (e.g. military academies and state professional schools). They could sit for just about any civil service examination outside of those given ‘protective service’ occupations. The two mundane elements of civic participation – voting and jury service – were open to them. They weren’t welcome in the governments protective service occupations except as auxilliaries. The reasons for that are bloody obvious.

    Ginsburg was never an advocate for anything resembling ‘women’s rights’ because there were hardly any enforceable entitlements contra the government which were denied women. There were regulatory measures that took cognizance of the difference between men and women and took cognizance of how it was they typically interacted. Purblind ideologues like Ginsburg were enraged at this sort of thing because they were inspired by the reality of men and women as a dyad, rather than Ginsburg’s imagination of what they should be.

    Note what counted as ‘women’s rights’ in the mind of Ginsburg’s confederates (and in the mind of Ginsburg when she was engaging in lawfare operations contra legislatures and administrative agencies) was all about creating a legal means to harass private parties who did not evaluate women’s labor the way she thought they should, allowing women the broadest possible discretion to divorce their husbands without cost to themselves, allowing lousy women (against the better judgment of the broader community) to commit the crime of abortion, and insisting that every sort of institution be compelled by law to distort and disfigure itself to accommodate willful female employees (the cost to their collective mission be damned).

    She never promoted a decent cause in her sorry-assed life.

    1. Whoa, I had to go up and see who wrote this saga. Daannng, or as the cool kids say, Dayyyuumm, packing a punch 👊 one two.

      The woman just passed, at least give it some time, people wanna throw down, immediately.

      The civility manners are gone. Adios, out rhe window with the kitchen sink

      Fun fact: my cats name was Kiki 😢 the poor bugger passed 2 years ago, this time. Was just talking about her, the cat, few days ago. The cat, that is 🐈 😺

      1. In other news: why did Scotus essentially throw out the “systematic and continuous, ” language in general jurx., but leave open an exception for corporations?

        Thats some weird sheeeittt right there, if ya know what i mean 😏

        Why is it called Minimum Contacts and then promptly talks about being @ home. Lol. If I am home, there ain’t no Minimum Contact. Thats dumb.

        Whats next? Yeah, under the Shoe case, Fair Play, would it be Fair to say it is convenient for the D when that D was @ home?

        Idk, is it convenient for me to walk across the street to the post office, if said post office happened to be across the street. Or should I just drive? Ima go with driving, bc it takes additional and unnecessary steps, but hey, its “convenient,” bc im @ home in a systematic and continuous Minimum way.


      2. Hi Anonymous, I’m not sure which Anonymous you are, but I’m sorry to hear about your Kiki passing. We’ve lost four cats and still miss them and think and talk about them every day.

        1. DV – 😭😭😭, so sad. Sorry to hear as well.

          4 cats 🐈 that is a serious cat house. Aye chihuahua!

          Hope your cats are in cat heaven too. 😸

  11. Republicans created “legal precedent” by subverting Obama’s nearly 100 federal judge picks and a U.S. Supreme Court pick. Americans democratically elected Obama and gave him that authority, like nearly all presidents in the past 200 years. The constitutional question is can the “rules of Congress” violate the U.S. Constitution? McConnell created new legal precedent and even publicly stated that we shouldn’t pick a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in an election year. The rules of Congress are supposed to improve civility and process, not subvert the democratic and constitutional process. Obama should file a lawsuit and call it what it is: legal and constitutional precedent

    1. McConnell’s choices with respect to SCOTUS nominations were/are legal. But his choice with Merrick Garland was an act of cowardice: Republican Senators were afraid of having to publicly vote on Garland and be held accountable for their votes in the upcoming election.

      The Trump supporters here have been referencing a National Review article that says “Historically, throughout American history, when their party controls the Senate, presidents get to fill Supreme Court vacancies at any time — even in a presidential election year, even in a lame-duck session after the election, even after defeat. Historically, when the opposite party controls the Senate, the Senate gets to block Supreme Court nominees sent up in a presidential election year, and hold the seat open for the winner.”

      But what neither the article nor the Trump supporters here can admit is that McConnell’s choice not to hold a vote was an act of cowardice. It’s not nearly as common for the Senate to allow a nomination to lapse (which is what occurred with Garland) as it is for the Senate to reject or confirm the nominee in a vote. And McConnell was afraid that Garland wouldn’t be rejected in a vote.

      The article falsely claims “the Republican majority did not even hold a hearing for an outcome that was predetermined,” when it wasn’t predetermined. McConnell was afraid of putting Republican Senators in the position of actually having to make a choice. He was afraid of defections, and he was also afraid that some of those who’d choose to vote against Garland and were up for reelection might then lose.

      And the reason that he and other Republicans are looking like hypocrites now is because they weren’t honest about what was going on at the time. No surprise, lots of politicians aren’t hones, and that’s not limited to Republicans. But it’s then also not a surprise when they’re called out for their dishonest and hypocrisy.

      1. Merrick Garland was no liberal either, some could argue Garland is more conservative than most Republicans today, except for Rand Paul. McConnell rejected a candidate more conservative than he is (using Webster’s definition of “conservative”).

      1. One doesn’t use a quiver in the bow, Squeeky; one uses an arrow. Arrows are stored in the quiver.

        What Pelosi actually said about use every arrow in a quiver:

        “We have a big challenge in our country. This President has threatened to not even accept the results of the election with statements that he and his henchmen have made. So, right now, our main goal and I think Ruth Bader Ginsburg would want that to be to protect the integrity of the election, as we protect the American people from the coronavirus. … We’ve taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people. That is when we weigh the equities of protecting our democracy requires us to use every arrow in our quiver. … Again, this is about the people. It’s about their health, their economic well-being, the health of our democracy. We have a great deal at stake here. I think we should be very calm. We should be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

        So don’t pretend that what she actually said — that “protecting our democracy requires us to use every arrow in our quiver” — is in any way analogous to McConnell using his power to avoid a vote, because he was worried about Republicans defecting and about other Republicans hurting their chance for reelection. McConnell was not acting to protect our democracy. He was acting to protect the GOP.

        1. Uh. . . I did that on purpose as a gibe mocking her inanity. I almost said, “use every quiver in your quiver” to mock her dotty senile speech patterns but I decided against it.

          Geeesh, but I am always making word plays and puns and things. Did you see my An Orgone Conclusion Irish Poem the other day on the book burning thread??? If you did, did you get it, or was it over your head? Because that was one of my best evah.

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

          1. There was nothing inane in what she actually said, which you continue to ignore.

            No doubt you’ll also “mock [Trump’s] dotty senile speech patterns.” /s
            His speech is much more deserving of mockery than Pelosi’s.

              1. Great album.

                But Trump hasn’t stood up to any WAR PIGS. Just on troop withdrawals he’s backed off every single time.

  12. “While Ginsburg was not known for broad or prosaic opinions, she became a judicial symbol in her own right. She was the common denominator on the bench in opinions mandating equality and dignity for all groups and genders. She varied little in her votes and was always there for the rights of women and for the protection of minority populations.”
    Which is a nice way of saying she was a judicial lightweight but an ideologue drenched in identity politics whose primary concern was the rights of her own gender. In essence, an activist on the bench. Change her gender and make it about men’s rights in say divorce proceedings or reverse discrimination and you’ve got the object of leftist scorn and the clamor of “bigot” from the peanut gallery.

    Yet the hero worship continues. Can three funerals and a golden coffin be far behind?

    1. Americans are hooked on lionizing people and their targets, like Ruth Bader Ginzburg can’t be blamed for that. It wasn’t too long ago that a vocal support group advocated for Avenatti to run for president, with some serious media backing.

  13. source:https://forward.com/scribe/454812/may-ruth-bader-ginsburgs-memory-be-for-a-blessing-what-exactly-does-that/

    May Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s memory be ‘for a blessing.’ What, exactly, does that mean?
    by Molly Conway

    There are a few posts going around reminding folks that since Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Jewish, the proper thing to say about her passing is “May her memory be for a blessing.” That’s true, but I wanted to add a bit of perspective on what that means.

    Jewish tradition does not focus on the afterlife. There are a few thoughts on what happens when we go, some of which look a bit like reincarnation, and some of which looks like time to reevaluate our actions and relationships on earth, but for the most part, the whole “Do good things, get good reward from God; do bad things, get bad punishment from God” is just not part of our worldview. (Spoiler alert: this is why I love “The Good Place” so much- the final season feels very in line with Jewish thoughts on the afterlife.)

    When Jews speak of righteousness, it is never with the idea of an eternal reward. We work to be good humans to others and ourselves, because justice and peace are their own rewards. We don’t know what happens next, but we know what happens here, and that is enough. The pursuit of justice is one of the highest callings of Judaism, and it should not be misinterpreted as vengeance or punishment. The ideas of justice and sustainability are inextricably linked in Judaism. A system that is unjust cannot sustain, and a system that is unsustainable cannot be just.

    It is said that a person who passes on Rosh Hashanah is a Tzadik/Tzaddeket, a good and righteous person. When we speak of tzedakah, the word is often translated as “charity,” but it is more accurate to say righteousness. Tzedakah can take many forms (including monetary donation) but it’s important to note that tzedakah is not a benevolent contribution given to be kind or nice to those who need it, it is to be viewed as a balancing of the scales, an active working towards justice. To use a simple example, one should donate to the local food bank not to gain favor with God, or to be nice to those with less than ourselves, but because it is unjust for anyone to be without food, especially while others have plenty. Correcting injustice, balancing the scales, evaluating the distribution of power and creating equity is tzedakah, the work of righteousness.

    Similar to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s (imperfect) hierarchy of needs, the Jewish sage Maimonides wrote in the Middle Ages of eight levels of tzedakah, the highest of which results in self-sufficiency, or rather, an act that creates a sustainable form of justice. “Teaching a man to fish” is an extremely reductionist view of this idea, but it’s a start — the real meat of it is the idea that charity is good, but eliminating the need for charity is better. (i.e. Tax the billionaires so we can have universal healthcare, instead of praising the rich for building hospitals with their names on them.)

    The second highest form is where both the giver and the receiver are unknown to each other. This allows both for the dignity of the recipient, and for the giver to be free from personal motivation and reward. In other words, we should help create a more just world for the benefit of people we don’t know, without the expectation of praise, gratitude, or reward, in this life or the next.

    When we say that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a tzaddeket (the feminine form of tzaddik) we don’t just mean she was a nice person. What we’re saying is that she was a thoughtful person who worked tirelessly to create a more just world. One that would perpetuate equality and access, one that wasn’t reliant on charity, one that was better for people she did not know, without the expectation of praise or fame. That is what it means to be a tzaddeket, and I can’t think of anyone who better embodies the pursuit of justice.

    When we say “may her memory be for a blessing,” the blessing we speak of is not “may we remember her fondly” or “may her memory be a blessing to us.” The blessing implied is this: May you be like Ruth. Jewish thought teaches us that when a person dies, it is up to those who bear her memory to keep her goodness alive. We do this by remembering her, we do this by speaking her name, we do this by carrying on her legacy. We do this by continuing to pursue justice, righteousness, sustainability.

    So when you hear us say “May her memory be for a blessing” don’t hear “It’s nice to remember her.” Hear “It’s up to us to carry on her legacy.” When you hear us say, “She was a tzaddeket” don’t hear, “She was a nice person.” Hear “She was a worker of justice.”

    May her memory be for a blessing.
    May her memory be for revolution.
    May we become a credit to her name.

    1. Thanks CTHD. My wife is Jewish,and while she tries to live that ethos, it is unspoken and from tradition rather than explicit principle. I had not heard it like that before. I am a past Christian atheist humanist and have similar principles for life, which I consider practical and rational, even enlightened self interest when I consider my good fortune to be born in America when I was – not from wealth, which I wasn’t.

      1. Bookacrite:

        Please rectify this above bit of self-serving self-aggrandizement with your recent comment: “Dear JT, you sleazy hack, please GFY. Do it now and often. Thanks” on the next article. I think I know but this ought to be a doozy. (And to facilitate this, I’ll stipulate that I’m mean, too, however never an ingrate.)

      2. BtB, culturally I’m an Ashkenazi Jew, but I’m not religious, and Molly Conway’s discussion both echoed some of my upbringing and added detail. I appreciated the article, which is why I shared it here. Maybe your wife will enjoy reading it too.

    2. May her memory fade quickly!
      May the funeral home accidentally lose her body in the trash dumpster!
      May some talented person photoshop her face onto the Wicked Witch of the West!

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter.

      1. I truly feel sorry for you that you are so hate-filled that you would say something like that.
        You wouldn’t find me saying something like that about a conservative Justice. I wouldn’t even say it about Trump.

        No wonder you like Trump. He is also hate-filled, and it’s one of the things his supporters like about him. The Cruelty Is the Point: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/the-cruelty-is-the-point/572104/

        1. Oh blow that “hate” stuff out your rear end. It is the Democrats who started the extreme vitriol with their identity politics and cancel culture, etc.

          Plus, I think what I said was pretty funny!

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

          1. I’m a Democrat. You don’t find me saying things like “May the funeral home accidentally lose [Scalia’s] body in the trash dumpster!”

            Even if your claim that “It is the Democrats who started the extreme vitriol” were true — which it isn’t — you could choose not to follow a path that you denigrate in others.

        2. Committed to Sophistry:

          “I truly feel sorry for you ”

          You don’t feel sorry for Squeeky and you shouldn’t. Her’s is honest opinion with a dash of wit. You’re just virtue signaling with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Like Bookie, you’re compassionate when it suits you. Bookie still won’t rectify his glowing “compassion” with telling JT to “GFY.” I don’t think he meant “Go Find Yourself” like I don’t think you give a wit about Squeeky. Were her remarks intemperate? Sure they were. It’s a blog which means strong positions get read. Her’s is strong.

          1. Thanks Mespo! Maybe I should have not said that but I am sick of all the praise being lavished on someone who was pretty much just a liberal Democratic partisan masquerading as a judge. Plus, even Democrats are not happy with the way the old shrew hung on to the job way past her shelf date and deprived Obama of the chance to replace her. She sounds to me like a control freak who could not let loose.

            A house should have fallen on her years ago! Ding dong. . .

            Squeeky Fromm
            Girl Reporter

          2. I do feel sorry for people who are hate-filled, Mespo. It’s bad for the individual to be filled with so much hate, and it’s bad for society.
            I dare you to quote me ever saying something like “May the funeral home accidentally lose [Scalia’s] body in the trash dumpster!” You cannot.

              1. Mespo, I doubt anyone is surprised that you can’t see the hate in her 9:59 AM comment.

                1. Committed:
                  “Mespo, I doubt anyone is surprised that you can’t see the hate in her 9:59 AM comment.”
                  Nor we you when you went all deaf, dumb and blind when your play date, bookie, told the blog’s host to Go F Himself repeatedly. As a moralized, you need some work but you’ve got hypocrite down pat.

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