UNR Student Holds onto the Legacy Created by the ‘Notorious RBG’

Although devastated by her passing, Madeline Marino speaks about how RBG will continue to influence her life and future endeavors.

In addition to fighting for women’s rights on the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was fighting for her life against metastatic pancreatic cancer — a fight that ended Sept. 18, just weeks before the upcoming presidential election. Ginsburg held her position as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for nearly 27 years, and her sudden open seat flooded the media in devastation, especially among millennial political advocates who simply have not lived a life in her absence.

Madeline Marino, a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno pursuing an undergraduate degree in English with hopes of attending law school in her near future, is an example of a millennial who was distraught over Ginsburg’s passing. Marino was recently appointed as an Associate Justice for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, attributing her passions and interests to the ‘Notorious RBG,’ and emphasizes her plans to espouse the values and legacy that RBG created throughout her career.

How did you react to the news of the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

I was really upset. I went to my room and cried for like a solid hour. It was really upsetting.

What did her passing mean to you beyond an open spot on the Supreme Court?

She was essentially the only thing protecting a majority of America’s minorities’ rights and [seeing that] we already have a partisan Supreme Court, I knew the second I saw [her passing], a whole cannon of resulting implications would prove to happen because of the current White House administration, and I knew the second I saw that she passed that there was going to be an appointee before she was even in the ground…which is what happened. I just knew the political implications went so far beyond who she was as a person, which is saying something because she was a mountain of a woman, [and] for her passing to not even be mourned, like what’s going on with the appointee is being more publicized than her death has, I think that’s very telling.

How has RBG’s long-lasting position in politics influenced your education and passions in life?

Associate Justice Madeline Marino promotes RBG’s legacy by wearing a specialty face mask. (Photo by: Madeline Marino)

Where do I begin? I went to the Obama caucus in 2008 and I went to an Obama rally in 2008, so I’ve been very politically active my whole life because my parents are very politically active. So, I was taught at a very young age who these political fixtures are…especially RBG [who was] presented to me as someone we should aspire to be or model ourselves after — not necessarily because she was perfect or she made the best decisions, but because she was steadfast in her convictions and always stood by what she said, regardless of if it was popular or not. And when the republicans had control of Congress for literally 40 years in the late 20th century, having someone like that that advocated for women’s rights at times where women just simply didn’t have rights, stands to prove that we as women have so much more to do. So I, as a woman who is in a relatively easy socio-economic situation, white, cisgender, straight, I am set up in a very good position to advocate for these changes like Ruth was for other women who don’t even have their voting rights still, [or] other women who don’t have the socio-economic grounds to effect change.

So, I as this person who can do this, I should start now and I need to start now to protect the rights of women who don’t have that ability so that’s why I am so passionate about my position as an Associate Justice because I think that identity politics are one of the biggest defining things — not only in politics but in our society and everyday life and interactions with people.

Of all the accomplishments, which policy that RBG fought for was arguably the most important for women’s rights?

Women being able to have a mortgage without a male co-sign, because housing is such a basic human right. Access to housing has proven to be one of the most contentious issues ever in our country and so having access to that without a male co-signer is a vital importance because a male co-signer really is indicative of a nuclear family and a straight couple and for so many women that’s just not the reality of the situation and so [she provided] that for queer women, single women, divorcees, people who don’t want to get married to a man, anything like that.

How do you perceive the future of the Supreme Court without her presence?

Not necessarily her presence but the implications that happened with the loss of her presence are kind of scary or they could be really optimistic. What happens with appointing a ninth position, a ninth justice, will ultimately decide what the lack of her presence means for not only the court system itself and the higher courts, but for the people, the constituents, that are ultimately affected by those decisions. I think it’s too early to say if it’s going to be a negative or a positive thing. Obviously, the loss of her is a literal national tragedy, but I think that depending on what happens with the filling of that position, [and] how it goes on to affect the American public will be a good measure of [her lack of presence].

How would you suggest we hold onto the legacy created by RBG?

I think we should not appoint another justice until we know the results of the presidential election on Nov. 3… say Trump wins, then he can appoint Amy…whoever the heck, but she is an advocate against so many things that RBG fought for, so the biggest way Americans can maintain [her] legacy is not to appoint this woman, [as well as] maintaining the precedent that lame-duck presidents should not appoint any government official during this period.

Furthermore, I think we should elect Kamala Harris and Joe Biden because I think Harris could potentially be a great presidential candidate after Biden. I think that [her potential of] giving Black women, Latin women, queer women, trans-women, women of unconventional backgrounds, socio-economic standings, [and] sexualities…the resources to not only get into college and be college students but be advocates on their campuses…[and] once these women have these positions of power, like on their college campuses, giving them the resources to then turn that into a career if they want to or an advocacy that they can use and they feel good about using for the furtherment of their gender, their race, socio-economic background, [and] using [those resources] to not only [give] them the power…but [to] do well in these positions.

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Sydney Carter

Aspiring journalism and marketing student at the University of Nevada, Reno.