The RBG Necklace: Dissenting in Style

The RBG necklace is an American institution; her impeccable style was rivaled only by her sophisticated knowledge of law and politics. On September 23, 2020, over one hundred men and women gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who passed away on September 18, 2020.

These onlookers were not just supporters of RBG’s exceptional career as a litigator and judge, but former clerks to the formidable woman who, some argue, taught them more about life than law.

In an interview with CNN, Lori Alvino McGill, a former clerk to Justice Ginsburg, remarked “The justice taught us all a thing or two about a life well lived. She was among the first mentors to tell me I could do anything — but she also told me that it would be foolish to think I could do many things well at the same time. The life lessons she imparted gave me the courage to take a step back from my own career and choose, for this moment in time, to be more present for my three children.”

RBG necklace
The official portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, taken October 5, 2005.

Apart from her unparalleled work as a progressive defender of women’s rights, RBG was known for her ability to add her own unique flair to the otherwise bland black robes worn on the bench of the Supreme Court. In fact, her dramatic statement necklaces oftentimes spurred endless speculation about their symbolism.

The RBG Dissent Collar

Perhaps the most famous of the RBG necklace selection is her “Dissent Collar,” a weighty bejeweled jabot on a black enamel base; this particular piece would be worn by the Justice when she disagreed with the court’s ruling.

The Dissent Collar is so closely tied to Justice Ginsburg’s memory that artist Bob Staake’s used it as inspiration to create “a graphic metaphor that embodied [her] life and legacy” that will grace the cover of The New York Times on October 5, 2020.

Dissent was a core component of her practice as both a litigator and a Supreme Court Justice. In an interview with Bill Maher, Ginsburg explained the importance of contention in life: “Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘my colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way,’ but the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.”

The Majority Opinion Necklace

Justice Ginsburg seemed to have a necklace for almost every occasion. When delivering a majority opinion, she would don a jubilant gold-embellished jabot, just as bright as the future the judge envisioned for women in America.

This particular RBG necklace is yet another testament to her character as both an employer and a mentor; it was a gift from several law clerks who wanted to thank Justice Ginsburg for her impact on their lives. Meant as a symbol of approval, she sported this lacy look at President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union.

RBG necklace

A style icon up until her death, Justice Ginsburg left her mark on history. She worked tirelessly to ensure that the citizens of this country are able to live with both freedom and dignity. The RGB necklace is but a symbol of her legacy – her true greatness lies within the countless laws passed, and blocked, by the honorable judge.

She will forever remain in our hearts and minds and will be remembered as a powerhouse on the United States Supreme Court. To conclude, let us remember Justice Ginsburg’s wish: “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”

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Elysian Magazine Summer 2020