ATIXA extends its condolences to the family of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and those who loved her. As an association dedicated to Title IX compliance, we choose to address the often-overlooked role and contribution Justice Ginsburg made to Title IX jurisprudence, a legacy which she began before she was ever appointed to the Court.
Attorney Ginsburg’s work on the Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed in 1971 helped to pave the way for the passage of Title IX in 1972. She was part of a vanguard of activist lawyers who catalyzed change for women’s rights with sustained legal arguments in case after case, making the argument in favor of Title IX easier for politicians to accept. When three of the five seminal Title IX cases reached the Supreme Court after 1993, Justice Ginsburg was there. She joined one dissent and wrote her own in Gebser v. Lago Vista. She was in the majority on Davis v. Monroe County and Jackson v. Birmingham which were split decisions on which her vote and voice were crucial.
In her 87 years, Ginsburg was one of many women leaders who fought for equality for women, joined by some male allies. We see the same thing now as the cause of equality extends beyond sex. Blacks and other people of color fight for equality, joined by some non-Blacks. Those who are most impacted by exclusion become the loudest voices for inclusion, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
As ATIXA’s members strive to continue her legacy, it is not that RBG wants us to continue her fight, but that she wants us to make it our fight. Every one of us has a vested interest in promoting, working for, and demanding equality.
Those who have the most privilege have perhaps the most vested interest in advancing equality, for it is only accidents of fate and the vicissitudes of history that have given those who enjoy privilege the advantages they have today. That privilege is fragile and can change in a minute. Part of our job is to help those with privilege to understand that gaining rights for others does not mean fewer rights for anyone else. Equality is not a zero-sum game. When others gain, our society is strengthened.
ATIXA strives to elevate and advance sex and gender equity in education. Our members make a unique contribution that has benefited and will continue to benefit from the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passion to help the law embrace and expand its understanding of what constitutes discrimination “on the basis of sex.”