RUTH:

OUR LADY OF EQUALITY

&

PATRON SAINT OF DISSENT

Artist: Elizabeth Bryant

 

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Born: March 15, 1933

Occupation: Lawyer, Associate Justice of the

Supreme Court of the United States

 

“…That notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers — manmade barriers, certainly not heaven-sent.”

 

“Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘my colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way,’ but the greatest dissents do become court opinions.”

 

“Justices continue to think and can change. I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.”

 

Now one of nine judges on the Supreme Court, The Notorious RBG was once one of nine women in a Harvard Law class of 500, making the Harvard Review while caring for a sick husband, attending both their classes, typing up their both notes and papers, and raising a toddler. Following her husband to New York, she graduated at the top of her class at Columbia, but was unable to get a job at any law firm in NYC because she was a woman. She became uniquely sensitive to discrimination in all its forms, successfully arguing six landmark cases for gender equality. On the Supreme Court, she is a powerful voice for justice and equality for all people, often wielding the power of dissent in opinions written for a future, and more equitable, age.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is famous for her collars, which she uses to feminize the black judge’s robe. I gave her one made from a lace doily crocheted by my great-grandmother, placed over a flowered judicial robe. I think it looks a bit like wings. Her halo is a stylized depiction of the collar she wears for issuing dissents. I have given her a gavel for an emblem, as well as a book for recording dissenting opinions. Her hand casts a shadow on the book, as dissenting opinions foreshadow changes in future judicial rulings. The style is primarily derived from Byzantine icons, with influences from Jacob Lawrence’s Harlem Renaissance collage and Latin American mixed-media religious images.

- Elizabeth Bryant