'She was a role model to all of us': Bay Area legal community reacts to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death

"She was a role model to all of us. She was a leading attorney at a time when there weren't that many women attorneys," said California Court of Appeal Justice Marla Miller.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a big impression within the legal community and beyond.

After learning of her death, people in the Bay Area who knew or met Justice Ginsburg spoke enthusiastically about her incredible accomplishments.

But it was the personal stories about how generous Ginsburg was with her time, that she was a great listener, worth leaning into hear her every word and a fun dinner date that stood out and brought so much humanity to a woman who provided that for so many Americans.

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"You did have that feeling that she was always going to bounce back, so it's a very sad day," said San Francisco resident, Justice Marla Miller.

Justice Miller serves on the California Court of Appeal and on California's Supreme Court Ethics Committee.

Justice Ginsburg made a big impression on Miller from the beginning.

"When she was first appointed to the D.C. circuit, back in I think 1979, she may not have been a household name, but to those of us who were law students at the time it was a hugely significant appointment," Miller said.

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Miller has met Ginsburg and said "she was riveting," and "she listened really carefully."

"She was a role model to all of us," Miller said. "She was a leading attorney at a time when there weren't that many women attorneys. She was also a real pioneer in bringing the court cases that established the whole panoply of rights that women have, gender equality."
UC Hastings Professor David Levine spent a week with Ginsburg in Italy teaching law students.

"The moment I met her, she said 'call me Ruth,'" he said. "She was just lovely."

But one night in Tuscany, they drove to dinner.

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"The problem was she didn't like seat belts," Levine said. "So I'm driving on these narrow two lane Italian roads that I'm not familiar with and thinking the fate of the country is in my hands."

They of course, survived the drive and Ginsburg went on to affect nation-shaping decisions on the Supreme Court.

"In terms of moving civil rights in the 20th century, it's Thurgood Marshall for African Americans. It's Ruth Ginsburg for women," said Levine.

Levine also pointed out how influential Justice Ginsburg was because she was so good at reaching out to the other justices in order to find common ground and that fifth vote.

VIDEO: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited the Bay Area multiple times in her final years
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REST IN PEACE: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited the Bay Area multiple times in her final years, leaving lasting impressions for all of those who were lucky enough to see her speak.

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