September 24, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
March 15, 1933 - September 18, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg always followed her mother’s advice to be her own person, to be independent. Born on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, she grew up in a low-income working family. She valued education and independence, and always fought for the things she believed.

"Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you

Ginsburg always worked with diligence and achieved excellence in her studies. She graduated from Cornell University in 1954, first in her class, and a few years later attended Harvard Law School. She then transferred to Columbia Law School where she graduated first in her class. She was not only a dedicated law student but also a loving mother to her children, Jane and James, and a devoted wife to her beloved of husband of 56 years, Martin Ginsburg.

She experienced the injustice of gender discrimination throughout her life. She recounts various events which impacted her career and education. One example was from the Social Security Administration Office in Oklahoma where she received a demotion because she was female. Another example was when she attended Harvard Law School and the Dean invited his female students to dinner at his family’s home where he asked the infamous question, “Why are you at Harvard Law School taking the place of a man?” She was also rejected by Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter for a clerkship position due to her gender.
Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

Ginsburg taught at Rutgers Law School and then at Columbia Law School where she became the first tenured female professor. During her tenure at Columbia, she co-founded the Women's Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the U.S. to focus exclusively on women's rights, and co-authored the first law school casebook on sex discrimination. She served as a General Counsel of the Women’s Right Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and she argued over 300 gender discrimination cases, six (6) of them before the Supreme Court.

In 1980, President Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the District of Columbia. In 1993, Ginsburg became the second female to become a Supreme Court Justice when President Clinton appointed her and the Senate approved with a vote of 96-3.

Key Supreme Court Jurisprudence:

Gender Discrimination- Ginsburg authored the court's opinion in United States v. Virginia, (1996), which dismantled the Virginia Military Institute's (VMI) male-only admissions policy as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Abortion Rights – Ginsburg joined in the court's opinion of striking Nebraska's partial-birth abortion law in Stenberg v. Carhart, (2000) and Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, (2016), a case that struck down parts of a 2013 law regulating abortion providers in Texas.

Mental Illness- Ginsburg ruled in Olmstead v. L.C., (1999), that found mental illness to be a form of disability and is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The case found that persons with mental illness have the right to live in the community and that unjust isolation of a person with a disability is a form of discrimination.
“When I'm sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, 'When there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that.”
In 1996, she earned the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award. She also received honorary Doctor of Law degrees by Willamette University, Princeton University and Harvard University. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Society of Legal Writers in 2009. She was a fierce supporter of the Me Too Movement encouraging women to speak up and share their stories.

On September 18, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg took her last breath but her legacy lives on.

“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.”


Please watch:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: My life on the Supreme Court – video length 1.14.14