Atlantans remember Ginsburg’s impact

Atlanta native recalls Ginsburg responding to her childhood letter
Naomi Shavin mailed a letter to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at age 5 and later met her role model in her chambers in 2003. (Handout)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Naomi Shavin mailed a letter to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at age 5 and later met her role model in her chambers in 2003. (Handout)

When Naomi Shavin mailed a letter to Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1996, little did she know it would lead to several in-person meetings with the U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

After all, Shavin was only 5.

That missive sparked a relationship that would span Shavin’s childhood and adolescence. It culminated in 2003 when Shavin traveled from her Atlanta home, with her parents and siblings, to Washington to meet Ginsburg in her chambers.

“I was an inquisitive kid and my dad thought it would be a good idea to write letters to important people and ask them questions,” Shavin said. “I remember trying to wrap my head around her writing back. I’m still blown away now as an adult.”

Naomi Shavin mailed a letter to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at age 5 and in 2003 she and her siblings met her role model in her chambers. (Handout)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

Millions of Americans are mourning the death of Ginsburg, who died Friday at 87. After 27 years on the high court, Ginsburg passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Supreme Court announced Sunday that Ginsburg will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband, Martin, who died in 2010. It was also expected that Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court.

Memories and tributes poured out over the weekend in large public gatherings and online anecdotes.

The Georgia Alliance for Social Justice planned a vigil Sunday night outside the state Supreme Court building. A parallel event was scheduled at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington.

Online tributes hailed Ginsburg for her personal tenacity and her judicial rulings.

Former Atlanta radio personality Brian Moote said he met Ginsburg during a 2016 event at the Carter Center. He said Ginsburg’s physical stature — she stood 5-foot-1 — belied her personal charisma.

“I remember she was so little but I remember feeling like, ‘Wow, what a big human being inside. Such a large presence,'" he said. "My only memory was being completely overwhelmed by how little but big she was. It was impactful.”

Justin Tanner, an Atlanta public policy executive, posted a photo of himself with Ginsburg at the Aspen Institute in 2014.

Atlanta writer Eric Solomon posted a photo of himself at a showing of the “RBG" documentary in 2008. Ginsburg “made it her life’s mission to use her profession in the service of equal justice for all, including LGBTQ+ people like me,” he said.

Michelle Edwards, an Atlanta attorney, said Ginsburg made her career possible.

“She graduated No. 1 in her class from Columbia (law school) and no one in New York would hire her,” Edwards said.

One of Ginsburg’s most important accomplishments was to be a role model for young Jewish girls, Shavin said.

After she responded to her first letter, Shavin communicated with the Supreme Court justice throughout her childhood and attended her speaking events in Atlanta. When she met her at age 12 in Washington, Shavin realized “how much larger in life a person seems, they’re just a person too.”

“The impact she had on young Jewish girls and other little girls, to see someone who looks like them, I think she knew what her impact was,” she said.

- Staff writer Adrianne Murchison contributed to this report