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Statement by Dr. Rajiv. J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation On the Passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Saturday, September 19, 2020 – Humanity has lost one of our brightest, fiercest advocates for a more equitable world. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an icon for the ages. As a law professor, litigator, federal judge, and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, she was a trailblazer and so much more. She was a shining beacon of hope, a staunch defender of the equal rights of women and girls, and a steadfast fighter for our country’s promise of liberty and justice for all.

More than 40 years ago, The Rockefeller Foundation had the privilege of hosting then-Professor Ginsburg – long before she ascended to the Bench – for a month-long fellowship at our Bellagio Center in Italy. At that time, she was not only a faculty member of the Columbia University Law School; she was also serving as general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union, and leading the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.

After years of 12- and 14-hour days of spearheading court cases to advance the equal citizenship right of men and women across America – winning five out of the six she argued before the Supreme Court – her fellowship gave her the opportunity to, as she put it years later in a brief essay, “reflect on [her] litigation endeavors and to write about the cases, explaining their genesis, the principles at stake, strategic judgments concerning the content and organization of briefs, and the eventual Supreme Court decisions.” The product of her peaceful respite in Bellagio was her influential commentary, titled Women, Men, and the Constitution: Key Supreme Court Rulings. The Rockefeller Foundation will always be honored to have played a small part in supporting the extraordinary legacy she leaves for future generations.

Justice Ginsburg championed the values we champion, and served on behalf of the communities we seek to serve. She inspired our daughters, and our sons. Through her work and her life, she helped promote the well-being of all humanity throughout America and the world. We will miss her dearly, and we will keep fighting for equality and justice with the same spirit and determination she did, every day. May her memory be a blessing for us all.