The Houk Law Firm Mourns the Passing of Pioneer and Legal Giant Justice Ginsburg
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the Court, was laid to rest on September 29, 2020, at 87 years old.
One of Justice Ginsburg's opinions during her 27 years on the Supreme Court was the 1996 Virginia Military Institute (VMI) case. The VMI, founded in 1839, and the oldest state-supported military college in the United States, was the only public university in Virginia that did not allow women to enroll. In a 7-1 decision, Justice Ginsburg wrote that the male-only admissions policy violated the US Constitution.
Despite arguments at the time by VMI, Virginia, and Justice Scalia (the sole dissenter in the case), that integration would "destroy" VMI, her decision was later hailed as transformative by those directly affected:
- "VMI's female alumni are among our nation's leaders in corporate boardrooms, within our military, and within our communities…. [Justice Ginsburg] was a courageous legal scholar whose impact on our Institute and our nation is an inspiration for all." VMI's "Statement on the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg".
- Attending VMI is the single best decision of my life – it has afforded me opportunities I would have never received otherwise. This was all made possible because one woman was brave enough to carve out a pathway for us….You don't have to agree with Justice Ginsburg's politics to understand her passion. You just need to believe that we are all equal in the eyes of the law." Cadet Kelly Sullivan, VMI Class of 2001, first graduating co-ed class.