Change ahead for feminists in America after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

PHOTO: Crowds march for justice for women’s rights.

By Mayah Moore, Staff–

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will likely change women’s rights in the U.S., according to UC Davis students, professors and Davis High students. 

“Now, more than ever, we’re going backwards,” said Akshita Gandra, founder and president of a feminism group at UC Davis called Revival. “White men are becoming the representatives of women’s struggles.”

With the death of Justice Ginsburg, a seat on the United States Supreme Court is now open for appointment. DHS junior Elise Wyman sees President Donald Trump’s nominee for the position as an unwelcome change. “Feminism is the general movement of equality for all genders”, Wyman said, adding that she believes Barret has anti-feminism values and beliefs.

Lisa Pruitt, a professor of Feminist Jurisprudence at UC Davis, expresses her worry that doors that Ginsburg opened for women will get shut not only by Trump’s appointee, but by the other justices. “There won’t be enough of a voice of feminism on the Supreme Court without RBG,” Pruitt said.

Gandra concurred, believing that even Barret herself won’t be a good representative of women’s struggles. She believes that the current nominee would only represent Christian conservative women, despite the country being composed of many other views and beliefs.

Feminists are also concerned that court rulings giving women equal rights would get reversed. Pruitt cited the 1996 case of United States v. Virginia, where the Supreme Court held that women could be admitted to the Virginia Military School, a historically all male school, as the kind of case at risk of being overturned.

Gandra went on to say that a lot is at stake without Ginsburg, and that although some people think cases like Roe v Wade (a landmark case that held that women have the constitutional right to have an abortion) are set in stone, “unfortunately we are at a place where nothing is set in stone,” Gandra said

Gandra voiced distress over the current political climate surrounding the Supreme Court. “Feminism is just the equality between literally everyone, all marginalized groups […] It’s not a Republican-Democratic thing anymore,” Gandra said. 

Constitutional Law Professor Brian Landsberg, while likewise seeing that feminism “is the equal treatment of men and women,” sees the Supreme Court changing in the way that what is seen as discrimination now, may not be viewed as such by a future court.

Kathryn Olmsted, the Interim Chair of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at UC Davis is sad to see Ginsberg go. “She was a strong voice, the court will be different without her there.” 

Pruitt says Ginsburg is “arguably irreplaceable,” and she challenged “why one gender [would be preferred] over the other to take on a task that appears to not be gendered in any way.” 

Both Pruitt and Lisa Ikemoto, professor of a reproductive rights class at UC Davis, thinks that the new shift in the Supreme Court will encourage feminists to fight back as they did at the women’s marches when Trump was elected. 

“Progressives will rise up and resist this conservative backlash,” Pruitt said. 

Ikemoto likewise sees a silver lining, saying that the shift will “galvanize feminists.” 

Gandra thinks that at this time it’s important to educate others, to help them “see through the feminist lens” and to find “strength in numbers” by uniting with other feminists.

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