Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s second female justice, who died Sept. 18, had a big impact on many. Here, seven young people in the Seattle area share their thoughts.

Jaya Corliss, 8, Sammamish

Jaya Corliss was in first grade when she dressed up as Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Career Day in spring 2019. (Bryan Corliss)
Jaya Corliss was in first grade when she dressed up as Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Career Day in spring 2019. (Bryan Corliss)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the one I looked up to, from clear back in kindergarten. She was the one, during the lockdown, I told myself: Be like Ruth.

She was a boundary breaker and trailblazer. I think that this woman really paved the path for girls (like me) to walk on.

Ruth stood up to bullies. She spoke what she believed and mixed that in with facts to persuade people. She became who she was meant to be. And as hard as people tried, nobody stopped her.

She was a game-changing, powerful and strong woman.

Be like Ruth.

Rebecca Wise, 8, Bellevue

Rebecca Wise (Rachel Israel Wise)
Rebecca Wise (Rachel Israel Wise)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped women be able to do what they wanted to do. She went in front of judges to change laws before she became a judge herself. She treated all young girls like how she wanted her daughter treated. She helped others until the end; even with cancer, she fought and did not miss work.

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Kyle Gerstel, 13, Mercer Island

Kyle Gerstel (Debi Gerstel)
Kyle Gerstel (Debi Gerstel)

Justice Ginsburg’s extraordinary legacy represents the paradoxical principles that continue to shape our country today: society didn’t take her seriously at first, but now she is venerated in hindsight. Why don’t we celebrate revolutionary mindsets until after they have succeeded? We are hoodwinked by our comfort to not break new ground even though we’ve only reached our current ground because it was broken by pioneers before us.

Justice Ginsburg’s perseverance and integrity motivates me to start making the world a more equitable place for all. However, hearing her words about Colin Kaepernick’s protest (that it was “dumb and disrespectful”; words that she later said were “inappropriately dismissive and harsh”) forced me to recognize that, despite her remarkable accomplishments, she is still a flawed, messy human like the rest of us. Ironically, this has inspired me even more because it reveals that those who make a difference aren’t gods like we often make them out to be. As a teenager, I am still finding my place in the world, and the fact that it would not be the same without RBG indicates that anyone and everyone can produce positive change, too.

In other words, Justice Ginsburg was more than an icon — she was a person. A question remains: who will be revered tomorrow?

Carolyn Davis, 14, Kirkland

Carolyn Davis (Cameron Davis)
Carolyn Davis (Cameron Davis)

I think it is essential that we, especially young people, carry on the legacy of Notorious RBG in every way possible. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work and advocacy have had a foundational impact on our nation’s bias toward women in ways that we take for granted today. Her work has made it possible for me to have a job, without being discriminated against based on gender or race. The money I earn from that job can go into my own bank account (that does not require a male co-signer). And when I have saved enough, I can buy a house and sign a mortgage without a man. Her commitment means I can choose to have children, and work.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg dedicated her life to breaking down inequalities of gender and race and she set an example that we all can follow. As a young Black female leader, I know her work has made it possible for me to be the leader and advocate that I am today, and I will carry her words with me as I work to make change.

Meg Isohata, 15, Mountlake Terrace

Meg Isohata (Satoru Isohata)
Meg Isohata (Satoru Isohata)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always been an inspiration to me. I am currently on a robotics team and wish to pursue a career in STEM, both of which are heavily dominated by men. I have felt discouraged many times because of the lack of women in STEM and because I have sometimes felt that my voice was being ignored simply due to my gender. Unfortunately, this is a sentiment echoed by countless women in similar situations. However, seeing the strength and confidence Justice Ginsburg displayed and the magnitude of what she has accomplished has and will always empower me to do the same.

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She was independent, assertive, and fierce, but she didn’t sacrifice her personality to be taken seriously by her colleagues. She wore collars to add a touch of femininity to her judicial robes, an article of clothing designed for men. Always remaining true to herself, this was both a statement of female power and a form of self-expression. Justice Ginsburg is known as a feminist icon, and her passion for gender equality, which should be extended to all areas of our society, is why she has had an immensely positive impact on my life. Although I, along with many others in the nation, mourn the loss of Justice Ginsburg, I will continue to look to her for inspiration.

Ava Rudensey, 16, Edmonds

Ava Rudensey (Courtesy of Ava Rudensey)
Ava Rudensey (Courtesy of Ava Rudensey)

I was cutting an apple for Rosh Hashana when I heard the news. The TV was blaring: “Supreme Court Justice and champion of women’s rights Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died.” My face sank like the knife into the fruit’s flesh. I ran upstairs to my bedroom, apples in hand. I left the honey on the counter — the promise of a sweet year now seemed to be an unattainable one. Through tears, I asked my mom to buy some birth control and Plan B, preparing for what feels like the inevitable end of Roe v. Wade. I know I live in a state in which my reproductive rights are protected, but it’s hard to get Gilead off my mind. 

The overwhelming grief I felt at that moment wasn’t just for her, or me; it was for the entire country. I had two realizations, one after another. Firstly, how fragile my rights are that they can be threatened by the death of one person. And secondly, just how much good that one person did. She spent her entire existence battling (and beating) discrimination; however, there are still an endless number of fights for us to win. We can’t let the loss of one of our best warriors slow or push us down. I’ll be honest: I’m scared. I’m really, really scared, but if I ever needed an example of how to conquer fear and hatred, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is that example.

Lillian M. Williamson, 18, Seattle

Lillian M. Williamson (Courtesy of Lillian M. Williamson)
Lillian M. Williamson (Courtesy of Lillian M. Williamson)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is probably the most prominent figure in my apartment. Everywhere you look, you’ll see Ginsburg — a poster of her hangs over my bed, her biography sits on the shelf above my desk, a “Notorious RBG” mug rests in my cabinet.

And this amount of Ginsburg in my apartment is purposeful. Every time a man in one of my political science classes tells me to make him a sandwich, and every time a news notification pops up on my phone informing me of the latest setback to civil rights, I look to my poster or reread a chapter of my biography as a source of inspiration, and as a source of calm. RBG, through her 27 years advancing civil rights on the Supreme Court, represents safety, and as one of the most permanently instated people in our government, she provided that feeling of safety with a sense of permanence. Even throughout her battles with cancer, it never really felt to me like there would come a time when she wouldn’t be there.

So when I heard the news of her death, it scared me. Her death means that there’s one less person watching out for the civil rights of me and the people I love, and especially during the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s a big loss. Ginsburg was both my role model and my protector, and her passing leaves a terribly big hole in our democracy.