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Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Powerful Impact On the Environment

Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Powerful Impact On the Environment

By Dex Jones

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a friend, environmental advocate, wife, mother, lawyer, and judge.

You may know her as the quiet, but powerful voice of gender equality. Ginsburg has become a cultural icon for women’s rights and workplace equality. 

Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 15, 1933. She was born as Joan Ruth Bader.

When she was 17, she met her husband Martin Ginsburg, and the two remained married until he died in 2010.

Ginsburg led a career and life that created a platform for justice like never before. 

From Harvard to sitting on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg challenged “normal”. She paved the way for gender equality in the workplace. She also held high ground with environmental organizations.

How Did Ginsburg Make an Impact?

For 27 years, Ginsburg served the Supreme Court of the United States with fair judgment and equality based on facts presented.  

While she served as a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg was able to make her mark on gender equality. She also became our most liberal environmental advocate for change. 

During this time Ginsburg’s fairness made the most impact on our environment.

Ginsburg’s True Intentions for Environmental Law


In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg into the Supreme Court. Ginsburg was the first Jewish female nominee to succeed. She was also the second female to ever hold a position as an associate of Justice in the Supreme Court. 

In her 27 years as a Supreme Court Justice, RBG helped shape the environmental law of today.

Clean Air Act

In 1963, the United States Government passed the Clean Air Act. It was the first federal legislation establishing control over air pollution. It was a ruling against the EPA. The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must manage all air emissions to avoid further pollution. It must establish a way to regulate the number of pollutants released. Particularly pollutants that may cause harm to the public and our environment.  

Cars are a part of our everyday life now. But with cars comes the alarming rise of greenhouse gas emissions, which add on to the greenhouse effect on our climate. 

With our continued automobile use, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere. These gases create a thick barrier around our surface. This barrier traps the sun’s heat. The trapped heat creates a rise in temperature on our planet’s surface. This is global warming.

How To Stop Air Pollution


The Clean Air Act is in place to protect humans and wildlife by maintaining clean air systems.

In 1999, a group of private environmental organizations made their move on the EPA. In the case of Massachusetts v. the Environmental Protection Agency, the road to the Supreme Court was historic. 

The organizations wanted the EPA to control the amount of greenhouse gases released from motor vehicles moving forward. 

Cars and other motorized vehicles release four harmful greenhouse gases. As a result of those gases, the surface temperature of our planet is rising. And it’s affecting our environment.

Supreme Court Justices Political Leanings | History is Made


In 1999, a case was brought to the Supreme Court by environmentalist organizations. The goal was to slow the rate of change in our climate from global warming. Nineteen private organizations petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency. 

These organizations fought to include the greenhouse gases emitted from new motor vehicles. They petitioned the EPA to classify those gases as a harmful pollutant. The organizations demanded the EPA take responsibility. The gas emissions should be regulated under the Clean Air Act of 1963. The EPA denied the petition and refused.

The petition passed against the EPA to regulate emissions in new motor vehicles. But the EPA appealed the decision, and it was brought to the Supreme Court. As a result, history was made. In 2007, the high court held its first-ever ruling on climate change.

Ginsburg is Part of the Majority

Of the nine Supreme Court justices, Ruth was one of five who voted in favor. The high court ruled that the EPA must control the release of these harmful pollutants. 

This win was significant for environmental advocates. For the first time in history, the EPA would regulate carbon emissions from new cars and trucks. This would be controlled at a federal level.

Hawaii Wildlife Fund Fights for Clean Water

In 2012, The Hawaii Wildlife Fund filed a citizens suit against the county of Maui. The County was accused of improperly allowing pollutants into the water.

The organization demanded that the County of Maui get an NPDES permit. This permit allowed the county to discharge treated wastewater into navigable waters. 

NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. It is a program under the Clean Water Act. It controls how much of certain pollutants may be released into waterways like the ocean.

The court ruled in favor of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The County of Maui was not satisfied with the verdict and petitioned the case to Supreme Court. 

In a 6-3 ruling, the court favored the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. Ginsburg was of the majority vote. The Supreme Court ruled that the County of Maui was required to obtain an NPDES permit. The county needed this permit to release wastewater into navigable waters.

How Ginsburg Became a Liberal Ally

Ginsburg had a reputation as a fair and wise justice. She made an impact by ruling fairly according to law. In many cases that supported environmental protection, Ginsburg’s actions were inspirational. 

She was never swayed towards one side because they aligned with her personal beliefs. Ginsburg upheld the law and all court arguments unbiased. Regardless of her personal opinions. If she was not persuaded by a legal argument, she would not hesitate to rule against that advocate’s case.

Ginsburg had a reputation as a leader for equality and justice, as well as fighting for a cleaner, safer environment. This earned her a legacy that will impact generations for years to come.

Be Like Ruth, Advocate For A Cleaner Environment

Throughout her 64 year career, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became a voice for gender and social equality. But she was also a fierce advocate for a cleaner environment.

What Can You Do To Help?
The biggest impact you can have on the environment is educating yourself. 

Learn about how your daily habits contribute to global warming. Here’s what you can do outside the courtroom today to have an environmental impact:

Learn about how your daily habits contribute to global warming. Here’s what you can do outside the courtroom today to have an environmental impact:

  • Walk or ride. Greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks contribute to global warming. They create a barrier in our atmosphere that traps the sun’s heat on our surface. Try walking or hopping on a bicycle to travel shorter distances.
  • Shop eco-friendly. A great number of companies are doing their best to advocate for our habitat. Brands create eco-friendly reusable products. These will help to reduce your waste and slow the rate of climate change. Visit the Ocean Blue Shop to find our favorite eco-friendly items.
  • Do your part. As an advocate for the environment, doing your part is important. We need to keep our planet clean for wildlife and humans.  Learn how you can organize a clean up in your area, and help reduce plastic pollution to the ocean.

These small actions won’t turn you into Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

You may not have Ginsburg’s years of experience and education, but you can make an impact on the environment. 

Dex Jones is an adventurer, mom, writer, foodie, and PADI scuba diver living in California.