Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Supreme Court justice, feminist, towering intellectual, pop culture icon — died on Friday, September 18. She was 87 years old.
Ginsburg was the second woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court, after being appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She was celebrated for her powerful arguments and passionate defense of the defenseless for years before she attained status in popular culture as a diminutive icon of fairness and decency. The Supreme Court shared that her death was due to complications from metastatic pancreas cancer. She had previously survived colon cancer.
The justice — known to her fans as The Notorious RBG, or just RBG — was celebrated for her lifetime of studying and teaching law, for her incisive questions from the bench, and ultimately, for her fiery dissents, written in the strongest of language, objecting to rulings by the court that she found unjust. She served as a symbol that strength and might are not determined by size, or gender, or anything much other than grit. One of few women in her law school class, she faced outright gender discrimination when looking for jobs after graduating, turning her focus to women’s rights. She co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, and her career as both a lawyer and, ultimately, Supreme Court justice were characterized by her strong defense of women’s rights.
In a statement Ginsburg dictated to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, in the week before her death, she said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” The vacancy on the court is likely to inspire a massive power struggle between Democrats and Republicans.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a legend among women and among Americans. We will think of her when we raise our hands in crowded classrooms, when we advocate for ourselves in job negotiations, when we lift up the silenced and ignored in our communities, and when we fill out our ballots.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.com.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.