Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 25th, 2020

Photo: Getty Images

Following last week’s death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, women of California Waterkeeper legal teams honor the legacy she leaves behind.

Known fondly as the ‘great dissenter,’ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg carried great legal and political weight to advance women’s rights, equity, and protections for the environment – despite her small stature. Among countless critical decisions before the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg helped establish crucial precedent to empower the US EPA to address climate change by managing greenhouse gas emissions, advocated for a more inclusive definition of the waters protected under the Clean Water Act, and just this year, affirmed protections afforded by the Clean Water Act in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund.

She was – and her legacy remains to be – a powerful force for equality, our environment, and our future.


“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” This quote has kept me going throughout my life, both professionally and personally. This same sentiment is also what I suspect ultimately drives each of us who work with and for California Waterkeeper organizations, seeking swimmable, fishable and drinkable water for all Californians now and into the future. What will your next step be to continue RBG’s unwavering fight for equality and justice? – Erin Clancy, JD, LLM, Staff Attorney, California Coastkeeper Alliance.

RBG laid the groundwork for not only women, but for all to have a voice and be valued. The impact of her work and legacy on each of our lives can’t be understated. It lands on each of us to build from this foundation to elevate everyone in the workplace, in society, and ensure no one is held back or refused basic human rights – including access to clean air and water. – Kaitlyn Kalua, JD, Policy Analyst, California Coastkeeper Alliance.

“And when I’m sometimes asked, ‘When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]? and I say ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked.  But there’s been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We have lost a superheroine; a supernova who shined a bright light on all forms of injustice and fought hard to DO SOMETHING about it. As a female lawyer myself, she was my rockstar, a source of true inspiration. She did so much for so many – let’s not let her down. RIP(Power) RBG. – Kim Lewand Martin, JD, Associate Director, Los Angeles Waterkeeper.

Orange County Coastkeeper’s all-female legal team honors RBG’s life by dedicating their careers to a cause they deeply believe in – the protection of clean water in our creeks, rivers, and oceans. Rest in Power RBG. Women belong in all places where decisions are made. In the past 5 years, the number of women representing waterkeepers in court has increased exponentially. – Sarah Spinuzzi, JD, Senior Staff Attorney, Orange County Coastkeeper. We are so lucky to be women in a world RBG helped shape. RIP to a titan, queen, and role model extraordinaire. – Lauren Chase, JD, Staff Attorney, Orange County Coastkeeper.

“A person’s a person no matter how small” may have been written by Dr. Seuss, but RBG put those words into practice by using the power of the law, compassion and a well-laid out argument to fight against the societal injustices that plague our country today. She showed us that a strong, independent woman can make a change in this man’s world and that even when we lose a battle, we will still be heard and that we are here for the long-haul. RBG was a guiding torch of hope for where our country could go and the loss is now unbearable. In the words of the Notorious RBG, “fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Jaime Neary, JD, Policy Analyst, Russian Riverkeeper.

Justice Ginsburg was not just a legal icon, she paved the way for women like me to pursue legal education and use that knowledge to make change. Her words and actions will continue to remind me that women deserve “to be in every room where decisions are being made,” which is vital to environmental advocacy. I can only hope that my work moving forward will honor and protect her legacy for generations to come. – Ashley Overhouse, JD, LLM, River Policy Manager, Yuba River Waterkeeper.


During these uncertain times, there’s one thing we do know: California Waterkeepers will continue to take Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lead – and where there are public and environmental injustices, we won’t dissent quietly.

Categories: Happening Now