Decade in review: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dubbed “Notorious RBG” by fans
on Dec 30, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Over the last decade, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a pop culture icon – an unlikely attainment for a Supreme Court justice. Throughout her career, Ginsburg has made history and broken glass ceilings, from graduating first in her class at Columbia to founding the ACLU Women’s Rights Project to becoming the second woman on the Supreme Court bench. But she never, in her wildest imagination, expected to be a household name.
The turning point may have been her 2013 dissent in Shelby County v. Holder, when she likened striking down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act to “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Her pronouncements inspired the Tumblr page Notorious RBG – the nickname that she now appears happy to carry. Whatever the cause of her launch to fame, by January of 2019, a Fox News poll found that Ginsburg was the best-liked member of the Supreme Court bench.
Over the course of the decade, Ginsburg wrote a bestselling book and inspired an Oscar-nominated documentary, a feature film and a cornucopia of merch – from Halloween costumes to action figures to T-shirts (the justice has her own stash). She even became a recurring character on “Saturday Night Live,” the ultimate sign of pop-culture prominence.
Ginsburg has undergone numerous health challenges, but her admirers rest easier knowing that she takes her own health seriously – she once said that the most important person in her life was her personal trainer. And earlier this year, a short time after Stephen Colbert’s viral segment on Ginsburg’s workout routine, hundreds of people celebrated her 86th birthday by planking outside the Supreme Court. Even though the Supreme Court continues to resist the inroads of the internet age, Ginsburg’s status as a social media sensation has made her, for many Americans, the most visible symbol of the nation’s highest tribunal.