Down with 'Notorious R.B.G.'

You wouldn't expect to find Justi...

Posted: Aug 10, 2018 3:00 PM
Updated: Aug 10, 2018 3:00 PM

You wouldn't expect to find Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a tattoo parlor.

But that's how she made an appearance on the arm of Rachel Fink, a student of the University of Maryland.

Curricula

Education

Females (demographic group)

Legal education

Legal services

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

US Supreme Court

Barack Obama

Decisions and rulings

Education systems and institutions

Graduate and professional schools

Higher education

Gays and lesbians

LGBT rights

Marriage

Same-sex marriage and unions

Sex and gender issues

Societal issues

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Law and legal system

Political Figures - US

Politics

US federal court system

US federal government

Fink sat for nearly three hours as a tattoo artist known as "Nikkiballs" permanently imprinted a portrait of Ginsburg on her arm in 2015.

"I think it's a lot about respect," explained Fink. "People on social media and my generation have taken to her."

There are tattoos, muscle tees, YouTube serenades and judicial swag all paying homage to the small, soft-spoken justice who has been on the nation's highest bench for 25 years -- as long as some of her more devoted followers have been alive.

Ginsburg leads the court's liberal bloc, and has played an important role in key decisions on same-sex marriage, Obamacare and the death penalty. No other Supreme Court justice has had such a fan base driven by such savvy followers -- intellectual devotees -- who show their appreciation in such distinctly millennial ways.

One website dubbed Ginsburg "The Notorious R.B.G." loosely based on the rap mogul "The Notorious B.I.G." Ginsburg admits she had to initially ask her law clerks, "What is this Notorious R.B.G.?"

Many of her fans weren't born in 1959, when Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School and realized that even though she was at the top of her class, she couldn't get a job offer.

That stunned law student Tanya Gassenheimer.

"First and foremost she was a woman," said Gassenheimer, "and moreover she was a woman who had a child."

It's the work that Ginsburg did as an advocate in the 1970s, long before she was nominated to the bench, that inspires Gassenheimer. At the time, Ginsburg brought suits across the country challenging laws that discriminated on the basis of gender. Ginsburg had a litigation strategy that included choosing her cases very carefully and sometimes representing men who faced discrimination.

"She made people realize that this is not just a woman's issue, it's an issue for everyone," said Gassenheimer, who credits Ginsburg with inspiring her to go to Georgetown University Law Center. "She is the reason that people like me can go to law school without thinking it is a hostile place for women."

Ginsburg's status is not lost on one of her sisters on the bench, Justice Elena Kagan. In a speech in 2014, Kagan joked about Ginsburg as a "hip hop icon" but turned serious about the fact that Ginsburg changed the post-law school career paths of many women.

"It makes absolute sense that Justice Ginsburg has become an idol for younger generations," said Kagan, who once served as the dean of Harvard Law School. "As a litigator and then as a judge, she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law. More than any other person, she can take credit for making the laws of this country work for women, and in doing so she made possible my own career."

Fink appreciates Ginsburg's outlook. "She understands that change moves slowly and that in order to make these big steps in the equal rights process, you have to take little steps first."

At 85, Ginsburg shows no signs of slowing down or stepping aside. A few liberals once suggested that she retire to give President Barack Obama the chance to appoint another liberal justice. She rejected that notion in an interview with Elle in 2014, arguing that the current state of politics would severely limit who the President could nominate.

"Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have?" she told the magazine at the time.

In 2007, she upbraided the majority for its ruling in a pay disparity case involving a woman named Lilly Ledbetter, who served as a supervisor at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Gadsden, Alabama. "The ball is in Congress' court," Ginsburg wrote at the end of her dissent. Congress listened. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first piece of legislation signed by then President Obama.

Obama, although not a millennial, is also a fan. At his 2015 State of the Union address, cameras caught him hugging Ginsburg, who was sporting black lace gloves to complement her robe.

"I've got a soft spot for Justice Ginsburg," Obama told an audience at the White House in 2011.

When Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, Ginsburg took on a new role on the court. She became the most senior member of the court's liberal wing. That means in some of those controversial 5-4 cases, she gets to choose who writes the dissent.

In 2014, when a divided court ruled in favor of the religious freedom claims of closely held for-profit corporations with objections to including a full range of contraceptives in their employees' insurance, Ginsburg didn't mince her words. She issued a 35-page dissent.

The dissent so inspired musician Jonathan Mann that he set her words to music and posted a video on YouTube, which to date has more than 250,000 views.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110759

Reported Deaths: 3503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20645758
Lake10172317
Elkhart6321108
St. Joseph600797
Allen5921200
Hamilton4646109
Vanderburgh327129
Hendricks2638121
Monroe236836
Johnson2250122
Tippecanoe218413
Clark210156
Porter203344
Cass19279
Delaware184261
Vigo175722
Madison156575
LaPorte135637
Floyd130061
Howard127063
Kosciusko118717
Bartholomew114557
Warrick111935
Marshall98024
Boone94446
Dubois94018
Hancock90042
Noble87632
Grant86733
Henry75424
Wayne73714
Jackson7319
Morgan69438
Shelby66329
Daviess63927
LaGrange62911
Dearborn62128
Clinton59112
Harrison55624
Putnam5209
Montgomery50221
Lawrence50028
White47814
Knox4769
Gibson4644
Decatur45339
DeKalb44211
Miami4223
Fayette41713
Greene41535
Jasper3802
Steuben3647
Scott35310
Sullivan32812
Jennings30812
Posey2940
Franklin29325
Clay2925
Orange28224
Ripley2788
Carroll26913
Wabash2608
Washington2571
Starke2487
Wells2472
Whitley2476
Adams2403
Jefferson2403
Fulton2302
Huntington2173
Spencer2154
Tipton21522
Randolph2067
Perry20213
Newton17011
Jay1680
Owen1641
Martin1590
Rush1494
Pike1361
Vermillion1250
Fountain1152
Blackford1142
Pulaski1131
Crawford1020
Brown1013
Parke932
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland680
Warren401
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 143547

Reported Deaths: 4612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin25846603
Cuyahoga17041642
Hamilton12698307
Montgomery7443152
Lucas7091357
Butler558699
Summit5073248
Marion305747
Mahoning2988279
Warren289348
Stark2723168
Pickaway262844
Lorain225386
Delaware211620
Fairfield199950
Columbiana191880
Licking185362
Trumbull1847131
Clark170738
Wood167971
Clermont161120
Lake157249
Medina142038
Allen136567
Miami134149
Greene133827
Portage106466
Mercer104417
Tuscarawas91020
Wayne89866
Erie89644
Ross84922
Richland78119
Madison77612
Darke75939
Belmont70527
Geauga70147
Hancock6559
Ashtabula64148
Athens5882
Lawrence58818
Auglaize5629
Shelby5619
Sandusky55420
Putnam53723
Huron5217
Union4832
Ottawa46430
Scioto4596
Seneca43514
Preble41813
Holmes3707
Muskingum3672
Jefferson3184
Henry29412
Logan2913
Champaign2873
Perry2849
Defiance27910
Clinton27813
Knox27815
Brown2732
Hardin24913
Morrow2472
Washington24623
Fulton2321
Coshocton23011
Jackson2284
Fayette2256
Ashland2224
Highland2203
Crawford2176
Wyandot20112
Williams1973
Gallia17912
Meigs1709
Hocking1599
Guernsey1557
Pike1530
Carroll1497
Adams1204
Van Wert1103
Monroe10618
Paulding1010
Harrison601
Morgan460
Vinton453
Noble260
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 68°
Angola
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 67°
Decatur
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 68°
Van Wert
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 68°
Cool, Sunny Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events