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US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18, 2020 at the age of 87. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. In the twenty odd years till her passing away, she had five bouts of cancer and finally gave in to pancreatic cancer. During the last few years, her health status was watched by public closely and at every hospital admission, lot of people went into prayer for her recovery. No one wanted her to go yet. But fate finally prevailed.
As per Judiciary Act of 1789 of US Constitution, Each Justice has a lifetime tenure, meaning they remain on the court until they resign, retire, die, or are removed from office. There are in all nine judges on the supreme court including a Chief Justice.
Ruth was born to Jewish immigrant parents in 1933. She educated at various schools and reached Harvard Law School. She was one among nine women in a class of 500 men. Later, she transferred herself to Columbia Law School, and became the first woman to be on two major law reviews; Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review. She remained an ace student throughout and earned many accolades.
At the start of her legal career, she faced difficulty in finding a suitable position due to gender despite recommendations from her professors. However, she ended up getting elevated to US Supreme Court in 1993. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton.
There is a lot to write about RBG, as she was affectionately called, in her various personal and professional roles. We would rather talk about what she stood for.
Her first advocacy was for ending gender discrimination. Between 1972 and 1980, she took up various strategic cases and her winning arguments led to monumental amendments in discriminating laws.
In !980, Ginsburg was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. During 1993, she was nominated to Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton, a position she held till her death.
Her work at the Supreme Court was characterized by cautious adjudication. However, her stance as a liberal among conservative majority made her stand apart. She authored some of the most important decisions of Supreme Court with far reaching implications and even changing the course of events for future.
The summary is that one frail woman was able to make such a strong mark in such a huge country in one lifetime. It is a story of struggle, focus, resilience and inspiration.
The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has special relevance to Pakistan judicial landscape.
Our Superior Court Judges have become known for a variable mix of judicial and extra-judicial activities. Politics also entered into the scenario with Mr. Rafiq Tarrar becoming the president, Justice Qayyum Malik saga and attempted sacking of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. But where is the commitment to uphold the law? Where is the effort to steer the country to better rights?
In a country like ours where justice and fairplay is in short supply, courts remain the ultimate hope for people. Although it is not fair, but our senior judiciary is needed to go beyond hearing miscellaneous petitions and appeals.
Supreme Court should not act as the final appeal court for every small, little case inching up through the ancient judicial system. Supreme Court should handle selective cases only where they can deliberate in detail and decide keeping in view the burden of history. The SC may feel they have lost a big part of their kingdom, but it would prove to be a happy loss for all stakeholders.