This time last year I went to a halloween party donning costume earrings, a doily-turned- makeshift collar, and a university gown. With my bespoke toilet-paper-roll gamel, I was dressed as human rights pioneer and US Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is with much sadness that she died on September 18 at her home in Washington at the age of 87.
Her vacancy, which President Donald Trump has since sought to fill in remarkable haste, is now bringing a lot of uncertainty and fear of regression - particularly in the context of abortion laws, namely Roe v Wade.
For Frances Joychild QC, Bader Ginsburg was a role model of a colossal stature for women in the law. She made major inroads into breaking down some of the structural discrimination against women in the US, and did so by using compelling rationales that the male justices could relate to, Joychild said.
In Weinberger v Wiesenfeld, for example, a plaintiff challenged a Social Security provision that assumed wives were secondary income earners and therefore deprived widowers of survivor benefits. In this case the plaintiff was a man.
Bader Ginsburg said: "From a justice's own situation in life and attendant perspective, his immediate reaction to a gender discrimination challenge would likely be: But I treat my wife and daughters so well, with such indulgence. To turn in a new direction, the court first had to gain an understanding that legislation apparently designed to benefit or protect women could have the opposite effect."
Joychild said she admired her creative thinking in drawing principles from all areas of the law to present her human rights cases: "Her tremendous commitment to preparation and presentation of her arguments [and] her courage and resolve as an advocate and then a judge was superlative.
"When she was on the bench she had such a love of the law and understood how important the law was to enable people to live their lives in freedom and dignity. She was and is inspirational to us all."
For Mai Chen, Bader Ginsburg was on the US Supreme Court while she studied for her Master of Laws at Harvard Law Society in Boston.
"She inspired me and taught me that labouring away to be the best lawyer you can be can make a real difference for the better; that building your legal prowess can give voice to those who do not usually have a voice. She made slaving over cases and hard work and competence cool."
For committee members of the Otago Women Lawyers' Society, Justice Ginsburg's death is a powerful and poignant reminder both of how much a lifetime can change the world and how much the world can change in a lifetime.
Justice Ginsburg's appointment to the Supreme Court is etched in their minds not only because of her own incredible achievements, but also because she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993, the same year the first woman was appointed to the High Court of New Zealand, a spokesperson said.
"We will always treasure her legacy and will remember her in particular this year at the annual recognition of our own legal pioneer, Ethel Benjamin, the first woman lawyer in New Zealand."
Sir Geoffrey Palmer said Bader Ginsburg was someone "with a powerful intellect and sparkling eye. She has made a permanent mark on the US and the public reaction to her death is clear evidence of that."
Palmer cited one of Ginsburg's most famous cases, United States v Virginia, in which RBG struck down Virginia's Military Institute's male-only admissions policy as violating the Fourteenth Amendment.
"Women seeking and fit for a V.M.I.-quality education cannot be offered anything less under the state's obligation to afford them genuinely equal protection," she wrote.
"Generalisations about 'the way women are,' estimates of what is appropriate for most women, no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description."
I shall leave you with a beautiful line Bader Ginsburg said while referencing her mother:
"I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons."