A Tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 25, 2020

The community at Gonzaga Law and the legal community around the world have paid tribute this week to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on September 18, 2020, at her home in Washington D.C due to complications from cancer.


Her life was an inspiration to many as she advocated for gender equality and women’s rights. Nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and later nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Justice Ginsburg authored court options on issues such as abortion rights, gender discrimination, and disability.


DC with RBG


In November 2018, Gonzaga Law alumni and administrators had the opportunity to meet Associate Justice Ginsburg in Washington D.C. where 26 Gonzaga alumni were sworn into the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. As Dean Jacob H. Rooksby later shared, “What a remarkable day this was for our alums and their families. The candid visits from Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Ginsburg put an exclamation point on an already unforgettable experience for all in attendance.”


This week, faculty members shared their personal stories of how Justice Ginsburg had inspired them. We share them here as a small measure of her impact and in honor of her extraordinary legacy.




“This physically small woman had a big impact and brought big hope. We are less now without her.” – Gail Hammer, Associate Professor of Law


“She was fiercely brilliant, with succinct and airtight legal reasoning. She was truly egalitarian, arguing a sex discrimination case on behalf of a man instead of only for women. And her friendship with [Justice] Scalia, for whom she held vigorously and deeply different options from, should be an aspiration for us all.”  - Inga Laurent, Associate Professor of Law


“When I first started law school, it was hard to always be the one speaking out. Until I read her dissents. I knew there was power in them and that I could use my voice for change.”  – Genevieve Mann, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Elder Law Clinic


“Ruth Bader Ginsburg never forgot the gender-based discrimination she encountered throughout her legal career. But when she emerged on top, she used her new influence to lift up others and better society. I can only hope we return to a place where our public servants prioritize others over themselves.” - Agnieszka McPeak, Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship & Associate Professor of Law


She taught me that I can be fierce in my beliefs and kinds in my manner, powerful in my advocacy and gracious in my response, unwavering in my values and collaborative in my approach…and that if you are going to fight for justice for the long haul, you should get a trainer. - Laurie Powers, Assistant Dean, Center for Professional Development


“When I met Justice Ginsburg while in law school, it was hard not to be awed by her presence in the room. Soft-spoken yet powerful. Small in stature yet a giant in the law. She inspired me to maintain my career while being a wife and mom. She said she succeeded in law because she was a mom. Her daughter taught her what life was about. It was the first time I heard a professional woman talk about her family. She understood the balance of private and world life. She continues to inspire me.” - Sandra Simpson, Associate Professor of Legal Research and Writing.


“Justice Ginsburg’s distinguished performance in her professional roles as a litigator, a law professor, a judge, and a Justice is certainly inspirational. But it is the intelligence, the humanity, the dignity, the ferocity, and the empathy she demonstrated in all of these contexts that is our greatest loss – and what will be most remembered.” – Mary Pat Treuthart, Professor of Law