A flood of social media users paid tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this weekend, after the iconic legal and cultural figure died Friday at 87. Among those paying homage to Ginsburg was Joshua Mogil.
But Mogil’s connection to the "Notorious R.B.G." hits a little closer to home than the rest of us.
The 31-year-old recent law school graduate said he’s lived in the apartment next door to Ginsburg for the past four years, where he found a mentor and personal inspiration in his neighbor. As evidence of their special bond, Mogil shared a handwritten note he received from the justice in 2019 in a tweet Saturday morning.
“She had great style, so I thought I’d give her something fun like a Wonder Woman cape for her birthday.” Mogil told TODAY. Though he was nervous to give her such a “risky gift,” Ginsburg took it in stride.
A fervent advocate for women’s rights in both her personal life and legal work, Ginsburg found a way to connect the gift to the importance of female role models. Mogil shared the thank-you note she slipped under his door, where she wrote, “In my growing up years, few women were out there doing things. Wonder Woman was a rare example. It has been a joy to see the changes the most recent decades have brought.”
She also thanked him for the smiles his gift prompted.
Mogil explained this type of response was typical of the justice, who he called "a real life Wonder Woman.” When he told her he was applying to law school a few years ago, she made a point to provide him with encouragement, and was especially excited when Mogil decided to go to Georgetown University where Ginsburg’s husband, Martin, had been a longtime professor.
During his time at Georgetown, Mogil said Ginsburg would assign him extra reading related to the cases he was studying in his classes. “She was very generous with her time and with her help,” he explained. “She would bring me to court and invite me to see her in action, but it was also just nice having her as a neighbor.”
“It’s not every day you get to live next to your hero."
By working to continue "her hard work and fight,” Mogil hopes to honor Ginsburg as both the mentor who lived next door to him but also as a larger inspiration who left an indelible mark on him and his career.
“It’s not every day you get to live next to your hero,” Mogil said. “I miss her as a neighbor and I miss her as a role model.”