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Home > News > News Articles > 2020 > September > Message from League Executive Director Carolyn Coleman
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Message from League Executive Director Carolyn Coleman

September 23, 2020
Dear California City Leaders,

Last Friday, we heard the devastating news that the Honorable Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had lost her years-long battle with pancreatic cancer. In the days since, we have come to know more about this 87-year-old American jurist who was also a wife, a mother, grandmother, mentor, friend, role model, trailblazer, bridge builder, and warrior for equality, especially gender equality for women and men. Despite her small stature, she was by any measure a giant. The second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, after Sandra Day O’Connor, she served for 27 years from 1993 until her death last week.

Justice Ginsburg leaves behind an incredible legacy. The ability for a woman to secure a mortgage without a man; a widower’s right to receive Social Security benefits from his late wife; the right for a woman to have a credit card independent of a man, and a military husband’s ability to be his wife’s dependent are a few of the rights for which we all – men and women – owe thanks to Justice Ginsburg.     
Upon the news of Justice Ginsburg’s passing, the tributes poured in from around the world. From Lisa Soronen, the executive director of the State and Local Legal Center, we heard about Justice Ginsburg’s impact on state and local governments. While she was considered a “glass ceiling smasher, a feminist, a liberal, a dissenter, and an icon,” wrote Soronen, she will also be remembered for being a pragmatist.
In what is perhaps one of the most important cases for states and local governments, South Dakota v. Wayfair, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated this quality. She was the sole liberal Justice to vote to abandon the Court’s holding from the 1960s that businesses must have a physical presence in a state to be required to collect sales tax. Since that decision in 2018, states and local governments have collected billions of dollars in tax revenue. 

Here are statements from several California mayors and others in remembrance of her service to our country:

League of California Cities Deputy General Counsel Alison Leary:  “It’s hard to put into words the impact she had on women worldwide and the void that she leaves behind. We certainly lost a true American hero today.” 

State and Local Legal Center (Washington, D.C.) Executive Director Lisa Soronen:  “Pragmatism isn’t a quality that makes people famous. But Justice Ginsburg didn’t seek fame. Even her critics are likely to admit that if she sought anything it was fairness for everyone. Part of being fair is being practical. Also, being practical keeps a person honest and humble—two other qualities Justice Ginsburg exemplified, neither of which made her famous, but both of which make her great.” 

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley: “As a law student I admired this amazing woman so strong, confident, and brilliant. I remember the shrine I set up while studying for the bar exam. It included photos of my love, my family, and #RBG. Her conviction, calm demeanor, and strength will live on.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: “She really is a historic figure. It’s easy to forget the recent history of discrimination against women in all walks of life, which was allowed without constitutional protection. And in her legal fight, she helped millions of women in this country even before she made it to the Supreme Court.” 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg lived an incredible life, breaking barriers and delivering justice. Her passing is a devastating loss for our country. We can honor her life by continuing to fight for a more just society.” 

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer: "Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a pioneer and an inspiration to so many here and across this nation to achieve more. She was a true public servant. Thank you, Justice Ginsburg, for your service. Rest In Peace."

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf: “Justice Ginsburg's life was dedicated to advancing the rights of women and marginalized people everywhere. All of us who walk in her trail-blazed path must push it further.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew our country could always be better. But our union is surely more perfect because of her service and her judgment. Our city mourns the loss of this legend. Our nation must carry on her cause. May her memory be a blessing.”

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia: “Thank you Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We are forever grateful for your wisdom, compassion, and goodness in the face of terrible injustices. We will never forget your legacy to make our country and its people more decent and just.”

Governor Gavin Newsom: “Justice Ginsburg devoted her extraordinary life and intellect to making the words of our nation’s founding documents more true. Throughout her historic legal career, her contributions as a jurist to the cause of equality for women and men were unmatched. Justice Ginsburg fought tirelessly for the rights of women at work, at school, and in the life of our nation. She proved over and over again that sex-based discrimination harmed not just women, but men and families, and that reckoning with this inequality was required for our nation to live out its promise.
“In moving our nation forward, she inspired millions among us, including so many women and girls, to reach higher, dream bigger, and dissent more passionately. Though this loss is incalculable, her legacy will live on in the fairer, more just society that she bravely ushered in and that we must, to honor her, safeguard. Our thoughts and prayers are with her colleagues, her family, and all Americans in mourning.”
United States President Donald J. Trump: “Today, our Nation mourns the loss of a titan of the law. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served more than 27 years as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States—notably just the second woman to be appointed to the Court. She was a loving wife to her late husband, Martin, and a dedicated mother to her two children.

“Renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one’s colleagues or different points of view. Her opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds.

“A fighter to the end, Justice Ginsburg battled cancer, and other very long odds, throughout her remarkable life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ginsburg family and their loved ones during this difficult time. May her memory be a great and magnificent blessing to the world.”
At a time in our country where the focus is often on what divides us, let us be grateful to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose remarkable life has united us.

Carolyn M. Coleman
Executive Director
League of California Cities

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