Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biography: Life and Legacy of a Trailblazing Jurist

Estimated read time 4 min read
Supreme Court of the United States, Photographer: Steve Petteway [1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a pioneering lawyer and jurist who dedicated her life to promoting equality and justice for all. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, to a Jewish family of modest means. Her mother, Celia Bader, instilled in her a love of education and a passion for justice, and Ruth went on to excel academically.

After graduating from Cornell University in 1954, Ruth married Martin Ginsburg, who would become a prominent tax attorney. They had two children and Ruth continued her education, attending Harvard Law School and then transferring to Columbia Law School, where she earned her law degree in 1959.

Despite her academic achievements, Ruth faced discrimination in the legal profession and struggled to find employment. She eventually secured a clerkship with Judge Edmund L. Palmieri, but was denied a Supreme Court clerkship because of her gender. She went on to teach law at Rutgers University and Columbia Law School, where she became the first tenured female professor.

Ruth’s career took a turn when she began litigating cases before the Supreme Court, focusing on women’s rights and gender equality. She co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union and argued several landmark cases, including Reed v. Reed, which established that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution applied to women, and United States v. Virginia, which struck down the male-only admission policy of the Virginia Military Institute.

In 1993, Ruth was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton, becoming the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. She was a staunch advocate for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and voting rights, and was known for her incisive questioning and thoughtful opinions.

Throughout her career, Ruth lived modestly and was known for her frugality. She famously wore the same lace collar on her judicial robes, which became a symbol of her dissenting opinions. Despite her wealth of legal accomplishments, she did not amass significant personal wealth during her lifetime.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away in 2020 at the age of 87, leaving behind a legacy of excellence and dedication to justice that will continue to inspire generations to come.

Here is a timeline of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life:

  • 1933: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is born in Brooklyn, New York.
  • 1954: Ruth graduates from Cornell University.
  • 1956: Ruth marries Martin Ginsburg.
  • 1959: Ruth earns her law degree from Columbia Law School.
  • 1963: Ruth begins teaching law at Rutgers University.
  • 1972: Ruth co-founds the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • 1973: Ruth argues her first case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Frontiero v. Richardson.
  • 1980: Ruth is appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
  • 1993: Ruth is nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton and is confirmed by the Senate later that year.
  • 1996: Ruth authors the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, which strikes down the male-only admission policy of the Virginia Military Institute.
  • 2009: Ruth becomes the first Supreme Court justice to officiate a same-sex wedding.
  • 2010: Ruth becomes a pop culture icon, earning the nickname “Notorious RBG.”
  • 2013: Ruth writes a dissenting opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, which weakens the Voting Rights Act.
  • 2018: Ruth undergoes surgery for lung cancer.
  • 2020: Ruth dies on September 18 at the age of 87.

Here are 5 interesting facts about Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

  1. Ruth was one of only nine women in a class of over 500 at Harvard Law School in 1956.
  2. Ruth’s late husband, Martin Ginsburg, was also a prominent attorney and professor, and they were married for 56 years until his death in 2010.
  3. In her later years, Ruth was a fitness enthusiast and famously worked out regularly with her personal trainer.
  4. Ruth was an accomplished opera lover and even appeared as an extra in a production of “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Washington National Opera.
  5. Ruth was a huge fan of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, and even attended games in person.

Here are 5 quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

  1. “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
  2. “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.”
  3. “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made… It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
  4. “Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”
  5. “I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.”

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