Grace Henley was at the dinner table with her parents, celebrating the Jewish New Year, when the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death broke Friday night.
“Oh my god, RBG is dead,” she remembers her dad saying. She said she had to ask him to repeat it about four times before she actually registered what had happened — and when she did, she sobbed.
Crying is not especially characteristic for Henley, who learned to stay calm during crises through nearly 10 years of working in the nonprofit sector before starting law school. But as a second-year law student and a Jewish woman with an interest in social justice work, Henley has long viewed Ginsburg as a role model.
Ginsburg died Friday at age 87 of complications from cancer. Amid national conversations and debates about the potential political consequences of Ginsburg’s death and a vacancy on the Supreme Court, some law students at UNC, like Henley, are grappling with the loss of a woman they’ve long looked up to.
Third-year law student Rachel Grossman was similarly shocked when she heard Ginsburg had died. She was at a socially distanced backyard gathering with some other women who are finishing law school — and though none of them could believe it, she said it was helpful to be surrounded by other female future attorneys.
“We could see that RBG’s legacy is already living on,” Grossman said.
That night, Grossman tweeted, “May her memory be a blessing.” She said she wanted the content to honor Ginsburg, rather than jumping to the political implications of her death.