4 Ways Ruth Bader Ginsburg Impacted Muslim Women

We lost a giant when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away Friday, but her legacy will keep her memory alive in our quest to ensure the laws in America truly reinforce or are changed, to allow justice for all. 

Ginsburg accomplished a lot for American women, but the obstacles she experienced with discrimination didn’t stop at being a woman. As a Jewish woman, she had to deal with antisemitism, sexism, and misogyny as she rose to become one of the most influential women in American history. She will be the first Jewish person to lie in the U.S. Capitol

From her personal experience as a Jewish woman, she helped make America a better place for women who were religious minorities. Here are several ways Ginsburg positively impacted Muslim women. 

She stood with other religious minority rights 

In a 2018 interview with the Jewish daily, Forward, Ginsburg said that being a religious minority shaped her views on helping marginalized groups.

“It makes you more empathetic to other people who are not insiders, who are outsiders,” she said. 

This was apparent when the Muslim ban was upheld by the Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor argued that the legislation was “motivated by anti-Muslim animus,” and that Trump’s history of Islamophobic remarks should have served as a key reminder that the Muslim ban was discriminatory. 

“The powerful dissent that Justice Ginsburg issued when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Muslim Ban will forever be a part of her legacy. Alongside Justice Sotomayor, she called out the blatant anti-Muslim discrimination at the root of the Ban with force and clarity, and their words are the fuel that keeps us going in our fight to repeal the Ban,” Subha Varadarajan, a legal and outreach fellow with the No Muslim Ban Ever Campaign, said.  

She upheld the separation of church and state 

Throughout her career, Ginsburg has consistently done everything her power to ensure the majority religion in the U.S. does not weaponize “religious freedom” to discriminate against others or have Christianity be perceived as the nation’s official religion when the U.S. has none. 

This is significantly important for Muslims because bringing Christianity into public schools, spaces, political offices, and more further marginalizes our existence as Americans and as practicing Muslims in a country that, on paper, has no national religion.

The right to work and have a family 

If there’s one thing Muslims value, it’s family, whether or not they choose to have one of their own. 

In many countries, once a woman becomes pregnant or has children, the laws are stacked up against them to return to work outside of housework. 

Not long ago, the U.S. was no different. This all changed thanks to a certain lawyer. Ginsburg litigated several cases to ensure women in the U.S. don’t get discriminated against as working mothers. 

Thanks to women like Ginsburg, Muslim women who choose to be mothers have many more rights in the workplace.

A pro-choice America 

While we await President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, we know that whoever he chooses will probably be anti-choice when it comes to reproductive rights. 

This anti-choice viewpoint (while should be applied in a personal setting if one wishes, but not politically) has been significantly influencing policies by the Christian religious right of the country. 

Muslim women have a right to being pro-choice in our religion, and forcing laws that don’t allow us to have the bodily autonomy God granted us would be a travesty for women and for religious freedom. We also have the right to birth control, and nobody’s religious beliefs should be influencing decisions that are between us, our doctors, and our personal relationship with God.  

Ginsburg helped us have that right, as she was one of the strongest supporters and enforcers of pro-choice law. We must continue to ensure that these laws stay intact. 

The list goes on. And so does her legacy. Ginsburg made Muslim women’s lives better in the U.S. 

Her mere existence in the law field as a Jewish woman was controversial, but her success paved the way for women who are religious minorities to have a say in shaping our laws nationwide. 

Right now, Muslim women — and all women — have a lot to be thankful for with the legacy Ginsburg left behind. And we must continue carrying the torch of equality for all.