“Think about how things were in 1787,” the justice said. “Who were ‘We the people’? Certainly not people who were held in human bondage, because the original Constitution preserves slavery. Certainly not women, whatever their color, and not even men who own no property. It was a rather elite group.” But over time, Ginsburg continued, “the concept of ‘We the people’ has become ever more inclusive,” growing to encompass “slaves, women, men without property, Native Americans.” Today, all these groups have won their right to participate in American democracy. And, the justice concluded, “we are certainly a more perfect union as a result of that.”
The justice understood constitutional equality was an ongoing project, and she spent her life expanding equal citizenship to all Americans. That project remains unfinished, and her death will make it harder, but not impossible, to complete.
MARK JOSEPH STERN in Slate Magazine, Sept. 18, 2020