By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Reflecting on the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Congresswoman Donna Shalala said her friend was “fearless.”

It’s how Shalala will always remember the late Supreme Court justice.

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The two became friends at Columbia University in the 70s, where Shalala taught political science and Ginsburg taught in the law department.

“Unlike many of the Supreme Court justices, who become famous when they go to the Supreme Court in terms of their decisions, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a giant in civil and human rights, in women’s rights in particular,” Shalala said.

Ginsburg made a name for herself. She founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and took on cases of discrimination. She was also unprecedented in the way she applied the 14th Amendment, which grants all people equal protection under the laws, to women.

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Shalala remembers speaking with President Bill Clinton when she was secretary of Health and Human Services, being just one of many others who recommended Ginsburg for the seat.

“I think years later, he realized how significant that appointment was, and how important she was,” Shalala said. “Not because she represented the liberal wing, but because she had actually changed law and changed women’s lives and provided opportunities for millions of women.”

Going forward, Shalala wants to see the work Ginsburg started continue as she knows her legacy as a trailblazer lives on.

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“We ought to celebrate a successful, dynamic, fearless woman who did something for all women and their children and families that will last for lifetimes,” she said. “She didn’t care whether you were Republican or Democrat. She wanted to make sure we had opportunities. The same opportunities as men had.”

Karli Barnett