A message from President Barron in tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 20, 2020

Dear Penn State Community,

Our nation has lost a courageous leader with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer and a champion for liberty and justice for all. Her life was a testament to intellectual rigor, integrity, an incredible work ethic and an unwavering sense of purpose. She was a tireless defender of equal protection, as it applied to racial or sex discrimination, and she became known for her powerful dissenting opinions when those rights were disputed or diminished.

For 87 years, Justice Ginsburg lived an incredible life: the first tenured female professor at Columbia Law School, the second woman ever to be appointed to the Supreme Court, an attentive wife and mother, and even an internet sensation dubbed the Notorious R.B.G. by fans a fraction of her age. Now she is at rest, and we are left to mourn the loss to our nation.

This is a difficult time in our history. Divisiveness, disrespect, distrust, and antagonistic disputes are played out daily in tweets, soundbites, and shouting matches on cable television. Is this really the direction we want our country to move in? Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that you could respectfully disagree, while maintaining a warm friendship with conservative justice Antonin Scalia, who described her as “the best of colleagues,” and “the best of friends.”

We have a choice, and we can use this moment to change.

Let’s honor the life of Justice Ginsburg by reflecting on the values and ideals she embodied: justice, liberty, collegiality, consistency, and kindness. Let’s honor her legacy by working to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in our nation and around the world. Let’s further her legacy by living with compassion and wisdom as we make our university and nation a more welcoming place for all.

As our nation struggles through the challenges we are facing, we should be heartened by the hopeful example set by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Every day, we too can choose to be inclusive, equitable, united, and courageous.

Thank you for your leadership, RBG.

Last Updated September 20, 2020