By Paige S. Levy, Chief Judge
Division of Workers’ Compensation
My heart broke when I heard of the passing of the Notorious RBG. I only saw her once when in 1996 I was formally sworn in to appear as an attorney in front of the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Rehnquist, an event hosted by my law school Alma Mater. The swearing in was a magical moment, but I was mostly enamored with the fact that I got to see RBG in person. She had done something that most of us as young lawyers had only dreamed of, she made a difference. Over the years RBG not only took on the tough issues and won, she never gave up, and she never backed down. I guess that is why she became an icon to most of us, men and women alike. She saw injustice and she never, I mean never, let that go. That is why we all idolized her so much. Secretly we all want to do something about a wrong, an injustice. Nowadays there are so many injustices that go unchecked, unaccounted for. I, like many, sometimes sit on the sidelines, watch when things happen, and too often turn the other cheek. Don’t get involved, you might get hurt. Girls should be seen and not heard as my mother used to tell me. This is why I envied RBG. She never let that stop her. She, like many women (including myself) were treated unfairly and even inappropriately. Because she was a woman and, at times, because she was a Jew. She took that as her fuel, as her fire. And she never, ever, stopped. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone care about other human beings in such a large way. What scares me the most now is who do we idolize, who do we look up to? I, for one, have always loved to have idols that inspire me, drive me, motivate me, and she was exactly that. I wonder, who does my 15 year old niece look to for that inspiration, for that greatness? Who will she idolize? Who is left?
Many of us, upon learning of the death of the Notorious RBG, got really scared. What does this mean for women’s rights, personal liberties, and the advancement of individual rights and freedoms? Who will protect us now? What will happen to us? These are the questions that I asked myself the night I heard. What now? You see as much as I loved and idolized her, I realize that her death is a sign and maybe even a wakeup call that we all must do our part and be that person. Be the person that inspires others. We all, as citizens, spend so much time looking for others to protect us. Now it is our turn. It is about action. No, that doesn’t mean that you need to sit on the Supreme Court, although that is not a bad idea. Rather, it means that we must all stand up and be a little bit like RBG. We must protect others, we must champion the rights of those that can’t do it for themselves. That is now the call to each and every one of us. Most of us have no control over what happens in the coming weeks, if RBG will be replaced or not before the election. That will be up to the men and women in two of the branches of the federal government. Most of us may feel we have no say in that. What we can do is become our own idols, our own champions. RBG fought against injustice in a big way. We can all pick up the mantle and keep that legacy going. I put the call out to everyone to not just mourn her but to champion her, honor her and be the hero that RBG was in your own way. The world needs a lot more of that.
Rest in Power RBG
Paige S. Levy, Chief Judge, DWC