I, like many Americans, was devastated by the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week. Her legacy has touched us all, whether we’re a conservative, liberal or somewhere along the spectrum.
And I, like many Americans, am wondering what the fight for women’s rights will look after her death.
On Friday, Joe Biden tweeted, “Let me be clear: The voters should pick a president, and that president should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg.” When asked who he would nominate to the Supreme Court on Saturday, President Trump said, “It will be a woman.”
But none of these responses are exactly right. We should not be looking to appoint another Justice Ginsburg. We should be looking to appoint the 2020 version – that is, someone who would propel the women’s rights movement as she did when she was appointed.
The answer is not another white woman.
In the 1970s, Justice Ginsburg laid the foundation for women everywhere to have the same rights as men when she argued before an all-male bench to apply the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause to sex-based discrimination.
This victory was huge, but the result propelled white women forward. Meanwhile, institutionalized racism combined with gender discrimination kept women of color from succeeding at the same pace. For context, this was just about 10 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that abolished Jim Crow laws.
And while all women still face gender discrimination in their personal lives and the workplace, as shown in the #MeToo movement, the fight for women’s rights in 2020 requires white women, like myself, to step aside and acknowledge that we have privilege within our gender.
Recent data shows this very-real gap. According to the U.S. Census Bureau data from 2018, the median average earnings of white women 16 and up is $44,600 compared to a Black woman at $36,700 or a Hispanic woman at $32,100.
When she was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a radical woman who set a new standard for women. Being the second woman to take the bench, she symbolized the opportunity for so many young women to break barriers. Her replacement should do exactly that.
As of today, there has only ever been one woman of color nominated for the supreme court, and she was not a Black woman.
The next Ruth Bader Ginsburg, someone who would continue to propel the women’s movement, should not be a white woman.
According to his tweet, President Trump is set to announce his Supreme Court nomination tomorrow at the White House.