Citizens of Newton reflected upon the life of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday afternoon in an event organized by The League of Women Voters Newton. The event featured reflections from Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, Massachusetts State Senator Cynthia Stone Creem, and Newton City Council President Susan Albright, among others, who gathered in person at Newton City Hall, while many more watched live via livestream.
The service began with opening remarks by the president of the League of Women Voters Newton, Marcia Johnson, followed by a song by Newton School Committee member Emily Prenner, accompanied by Jack Chang on the piano.
Fuller delivered the first reflection about Ginsburg, in which the mayor disclosed her personal feelings about the passing of the Supreme Court judge.
“I never met her in person, but Justice Ginsburg’s death is a punch right in my gut,” Fuller said. “I never heard her speak in person, but her voice resonates in my head. I read her words about equality, and I hear her saying ‘Women belong in all places where decisions are made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.’ I hear her speaking about justice.”
Fuller reflected upon the tremendous impact Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on her professional career. Fuller doubted she would have ever run to be the mayor of Newton if not for Ginsburg’s example.
“I probably would not be the mayor of Newton without Justice Ginsburg,” Fuller said. “I was a woman in my late 50s, I think I was 58 at the time, wondering if I was too old to run for mayor and begin a new chapter. But I knew that Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the age of 60 was sworn in as a justice on our highest court.”
Creem spoke next, reflecting upon the similarities between herself and Ginsburg, as both were Jewish women lawyers who struggled to be hired earlier in their careers due to their gender. Creem said it was Ginsburg’s work in government as a trailblazer that allowed her to begin her career in government.
“When I graduated law school, the Board of Bar Overseers tried to prevent me from becoming a lawyer because I was a woman,” Creem said. “I couldn’t get a job except in government because Ruth Bader Ginsburg had paved the way so women had equal opportunities in government.”
Creem marveled at the impressive firsts Ginsburg was able to accomplish even after her death, most notably being the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
“As I look at Ruth Bader Ginsburg lying in state in the Capitol, wow, there are a lot of firsts” Creem said. “The first Jewish person, the first woman. It’s something we could not think of, at least when I was going up. That somebody would have made such a difference.”
Albright followed, reflecting upon Ginsburg’s Jewish heritage and how the justice’s death coincided with Rosh Hashanah.
“Legend has it that if you die in the last minute before the new year, it means that God held back until the last possible moment because the person needed to be here on Earth,” Albright said. “Only the most righteous people are given that kind of opportunity to be the tzaddik. In the case of Justice Ginsburg, that feels exactly right.”
Featured Image by Keara Hanlon / For The Heights