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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (born 1933) is known as the legal architect of the modern women's movement.

In 1960 a dean at Harvard Law School recommended one of his star pupils, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to serve as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. Though Frankfurter, like others familiar with Ginsburg, acknowledged her impeccable academic credentials, he confessed that he was not ready to hire a woman. This was neither the first nor the last instance where Ginsburg was defined by her gender rather than her formidable intellect. But the rejection galvanized in Ginsburg a fighting spirit to right the wrongs that women suffered so routinely in American society. Thus, much as lawyer and former Justice Thurgood Marshall had converted the prejudice he faced as a black into the engine fueling his crusade to topple institutional racism, so did Ginsburg act on the lessons she had learned from her life. As the legal architect of the modern women's movement, Ginsburg, more than any other person, exposed a body of discriminatory laws anathema to the spirit and letter of the United States Constitution.

When President Bill Clinton announced the nomination of Ginsburg to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Supreme Court Justice Byron White, the initial reaction focused less on her qualifications and more on whatever the president had botched during the selection process. Clinton was accused of indecisiveness and insensitivity, as he had publicly dangled the names of other candidates—in one instance asking a Boston judge to prepare an acceptance speech—before giving the nod to Ginsburg. But once the political dust settled, Ginsburg's record guided the discussion. With few exceptions, legal observers praised her for both ground breaking advances she had won as a litigator and for the scholarly precision that had marked her 13-year tenure on the bench.

Faced Gender Discrimination

Ruth Joan Bader was born March 15, 1933, to Nathan and Cecelia (Amster) Bader in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York to a comfortable middle-class family. Cecelia Bader was the driving force in her daughter's life, a role model at a time when women had to fight for the privileges and rights that men enjoyed by default. "I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons," the New York Times quoted Ginsburg as saying in her acceptance of Clinton's nomination.

After graduating from high school, Ginsburg attended Cornell University where she graduated with high honors in government, and subsequently Harvard Law School, where she distinguished herself academically and served on the Law Review. In the "good old boy" male-dominated world of upper crust law, Ginsburg was told that she and her eight female classmates, out of a class of 500, were taking the places of qualified males. She transferred to Columbia University after two years, when her husband, who would become one of the country's preeminent tax attorneys, took a job in New York. But gender discrimination continued to overshadow her scholastic achievements. Although she graduated at the top of her class, law firms, which normally enter fierce bidding wars for such a star, refused to hire her.

First Tenured Female at Columbia Law

After a clerkship for District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri in New York, Ginsburg joined the faculty of Rutgers University where, in order to elude the Draconian employment policies covering child-bearing women, she concealed her second pregnancy by wearing clothes too big for her. At Rutger's she was only the second female on the school's faculty and among the first 20 women law professors in the country. In 1972, after teaching a course on women and the law at Harvard, which denied her tenure, she was snatched up as the first female faculty member in the law school's history. Although she wasted no time making a name for herself as a legal scholar, it was a litigator—she was counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she directed the Women's Rights Project—that her keen, laser sharp mind found its greatest outlet.

The women's movement took off in the early 1970s due to a confluence of factors, including the inspiration provided by the victories recently won by civil rights activists, the increasing number of working women outside the home and encountering employment discrimination, and a growing feminist awareness that the United States, though progressive in some areas, was laden with gender-discriminating institutions. For Ginsburg the central issue was the strategy she and others would use to force the desired changes in society. Just as years earlier the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had recognized that racism needed to be tackled in the courts and not in the political arena—where, after all, the Jim Crow laws had been born—Ginsburg found her target in those laws by which society's inequalities were both tolerated and promoted. But, on a more basic level, Ginsburg turned to cases in which men and families, in addition to women, were victimized by government policies that discriminated on the basis of gender. A former ACLU colleague was quoted as telling Legal Times, "We were young and very green. She had it all so carefully thought through. She knew exactly what she needed to do."

Argued Women's Rights before Supreme Court

In a 1973 case before the Supreme Court, Ginsburg successfully argued against a federal statute that gave more housing and medical benefits to men within the armed service than to women. The statute allowed a man to automatically claim his wife as a dependent, even if she did not depend on his income, and thus claim the benefits, while the woman in uniform would qualify for those benefits only after showing that her husband received more than half his support from her. Speaking before an all-male court, Ginsburg expertly blew out of the water a government statute that, on the one hand, disadvantaged a man who is a dependent and, on the other, minimized the economic contributions of women. In another case, Ginsburg convinced the court that a provision of the Social Security Act discriminated against men and the families of women because it gave certain benefits to widows and not widowers. Ginsburg also convinced the court to strike down a law ostensibly benefiting women—an Oklahoma statute that women over the age of 18 could purchase alcohol while men needed to be at least 21.

By most accounts, had Ginsburg gone the route of arguing only those cases in which women were the victims of discriminatory laws, she would not have effectively revealed the absurdity and unconstitutionality of all laws that treat men and women differently. Indeed, the crux of her legal philosophy—that the law cannot proscribe rights to one group and not to another—would have surely collapsed if she sought to protect women more than men. She had little patience for the claim of some feminists that women think differently than men and are inherently better suited for certain activities, be it child-rearing or government service.

Having won five of the six cases she argued before the Supreme Court and showing, more than any other lawyer, that the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment applies not just on the basis of race but on gender, Ginsburg, in the waning days of President Jimmy Carter, was named a judge on the United States Court of appeals for the District of Columbia. Though Ginsburg has been hailed as the Thurgood Marshall of the women's movement, she unlike Marshall (who saw his judgeship as an opportunity to continue the activism and advocacy he practiced as a lawyer), brought a cautious, measured disposition to the court. Her belief, shared by many conservatives, is that, with few exceptions, the courts should interpret laws and leave policy-making in the electoral, political domain. Ginsburg further delighted rightists with her vote to dismiss an appeal by a homosexual sailor who was contesting his discharge from the Navy, and with her statement that affirmative action policies can backfire by demeaning the achievements of blacks. In 1987 cases that produced a division on the court, Ginsburg voted 85 percent of the time with Judge Robert Bork, an arch conservative whose nomination to the Supreme Court would be torpedoed by Democrats, and 38 percent of the time with Judge Patricia Wald, one of the court's staunchest liberals. Still, Ginsburg curried favor with liberals with her votes supporting freedom of speech and broadcasting access to the courts.

Supreme Court Justice

With the retirement of Justice Byron White, President Clinton reportedly sought out a replacement with the intellect to counter the court's chief conservative, Antonin Scalia, and the political skills to pull toward the left members of the court's pivotal centrist block. The first choice was New York Governor Mario Cuomo, who declined the nomination. When the name of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit was floated, environmental groups successfully lobbied to keep him in his present position. The frontrunner in the final days was Boston Judge Stephen Breyer, who according to reports, had been told to draft an acceptance speech. But Clinton decided not to proceed with Breyer, evidently because the president was less impressed with the judge after the two met in the White House. Following that meeting, Clinton asked to see the results of the preliminary background check on Ginsburg, who had been on the short list for nomination.

While some commentators criticized Clinton for zig-zagging and for turning his back on Breyer, Ginsburg received the accolades of the legal community. Court observers praised her commitment to the details of the law, her incisive questioning of lawyers arguing before her, and her talent for winning over colleagues with dispassionate and well-reasoned arguments. Clinton was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "I believe that in the years ahead she will be able to be a force for consensus-building on the Supreme Court, just as she has been on the court of appeals, so that our judges can become an instrument of our common unity in their expression to their fidelity to the Constitution." Conservatives, grateful that a liberal ideologue had not been nominated, rallied behind Ginsburg, as did liberals, believing that they had found a foil to Scalia, even though the two jurists are good friends. In a widely reported joke, when Scalia was asked with whom he would want to be stranded on a desert island, Mario Cuomo or Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, his answer was Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ironically, the loudest concerns about the nomination of this champion of equality came from some women's and abortion rights groups. Although pro-choice, Ginsburg, in articles and speeches, has questioned the reasoning underlying "Roe vs. Wade," the 1973 Supreme Court decisions protecting abortions under a right to privacy not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. According to Ginsburg and a growing number of legal scholars, abortion rights are most convincingly grounded in the equal protection provisions of the Constitution rather than in a nebulous right to privacy. In keeping with her legal philosophy of judicial restraint—that is, minimizing the political activism of the court—Ginsburg has argued that state legislatures should have more flexibility than "Roe" provides, and that, at the time of the decision, the political atmosphere was favoring a liberalization of strict abortion laws, a claim disputed by some abortion rights advocates.

Confirmation to the Supreme Court often involves more a political brawl than a deliberative review of a nominee's record, but the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Ginsburg were remarkably free of rancor and partisanship. Setting the tone for the friendly hearings, Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, echoing statements of his Democratic and Republican colleagues, said according to the Boston Globe, that Ginsburg had "already helped to change the meaning of equality in our nation."

On August 3, 1993, Ginsburg was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 96 to 3, becoming the 107th Supreme Court Justice, its second female jurist, and the first justice to be named by a Democratic president since Lyndon B. Johnson. She was then sworn in during August 10 ceremonies held at the White House and the Supreme Court itself. The three senators to oppose her confirmation were Republicans Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and Bob Smith of New Hampshire. President Clinton said in a statement quoted by the Detroit Free Press, "I am confident that she will be an outstanding addition to the court and will serve with distinction for many years."

Her First Term

According to the Tribune News Service, "In her rookie year on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg proved to be anything but a novice…. {Ginsburg} proved assertive from the outset." Yet some Court observers, comparing her to former Justices Thurgood Marshall and William J. Brennan Jr., felt that she had not championed the underdogs as the former justices had and that her prose lacked compassion or combativeness.

In his nomination of Ginsburg, President Clinton felt that she would be a good counter balance for the conservative Antonin Scalia and an equalizing replacement for the conservative Justice Byron White. Since joining the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg, it is felt, has moved the court leftward, but not as much as the liberals had hoped. In her first term as a junior justice, according to Aaron Epstein of Knight-Ridder Newspapers, "Ginsburg strongly backed gender equality, solidly supported separation of church and state, opposed an expansion of property rights, argued to preserve protection of workers and opposed police, and prosecutors more often than most of her colleagues."

Women in the Judiciary

In a rare public appearance together, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor attended a program sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the University's Annenberg Public Policy Center entitled Women and the Bench celebrating women in the judiciary. During the introduction of Ginsburg and O'Connor, Colin Diver, dean of the law school said, "every single woman who has ever served on the U.S. Supreme Court" was in attendance. This venue allowed some distinguished alumnae along with the justices and other women in the judiciary to recount their experiences and careers for their primarily law student oriented audience. While being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton, Justice Ginsburg attributed former President Jimmy Carter with changing the judicial landscape for women forever. She said, "He appointed women in numbers such as there would be no going back."

According to U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch, "When Carter took office in 1977 there were only two women presiding over federal appeals courts and eight ruling in federal district courts. Now, besides the two women on the Supreme Court, 25 women judges sit in U.S. appeals courts and 100 in district courts…. And the states have all followed suit." Sandra Day O'Connor added, "About eight percent of the nation's judges are women."

While being applauded for stepping into her position as Supreme Court Justice without hesitation, some observers feel that she hasn't yet found her voice. Christian Kellett, law professor at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania feels, "She hasn't struck out on her own yet, but she is far more confident of her opinions than other junior justices have been. I think her influence has brought justices in the conservative middle over to the liberal side in some instances." Since taking office Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has written 35 significant opinions, two important concurring opinions, and three selected dissenting opinions.

Further Reading

Italia, Bob, and Paul Deegan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (1994).

Ayer, Eleanor H., Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Fire and Steel on the Supreme Court (1994, 1995).

Bredeson, Carmen, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Supreme Court Justice (1995). □

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"Ruth Bader Ginsburg." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Ginsburg, Ruth Bader

GINSBURG, RUTH BADER

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. Ginsburg was the first person nominated to the Court by President bill clinton, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice byron r. white. As an attorney prior to her appointment, Ginsburg won distinction for her advocacy of women's rights before the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg was born March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, daughter of Nathan Bader, a furrier and haberdasher, and Celia (Amster) Bader. Ginsburg attended New York public schools and then Cornell University. She married Martin Ginsburg after graduating from Cornell in 1954, and gave birth to a daughter, Jane Ginsburg, before entering Harvard Law School in 1956. Ginsburg was an outstanding student and was elected president of her class at the prestigious Harvard Law School. After her second year, she transferred to Columbia Law School, following her husband, who had taken a position with a New York City law firm. Ginsburg was elected to the Columbia Law Review and graduated first in her class. She was admitted to the New York bar in 1959.

Despite her academic brilliance, New York law firms refused to hire Ginsburg because she was a woman. She finally got a position as a law clerk to a federal district court judge. In 1961, Ginsburg entered the academic field as a research associate at Columbia Law School. In 1963, she joined the faculty of Rutgers University School of Law, where she served as a professor until 1972.

In 1972, Ginsburg's career shifted to that of an advocate. As the director of the Women's Rights Project of the american civil liberties union, she developed and used a strategy of showing that laws that discriminated between men and women were often based on stereo-types that were unfair to both sexes. In the early to mid-1970s, Ginsburg argued six women's rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning five of them.

frontiero v. richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 93 S. Ct. 1764, 36 L. Ed. 2d 583 (1973), illustrates the type of cases Ginsburg argued before the Court. In Frontiero, a female Air Force officer successfully challenged statutes (10 U.S.C.A. §§ 1072, 1076; 37 U.S.C.A. §§ 401, 403) that allowed a married serviceman to qualify for higher housing benefits even if his wife was not dependent on his income, while requiring a married servicewoman to prove her husband's dependence before receiving the same benefit. The Supreme Court voted 8–1 to overturn the law.

President jimmy carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. In this position Ginsburg proved to be a judicial moderate, despite her reputation as a women's rights advocate. She supported a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, but disagreed with the framework of roe v. wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147, the 1973 decision that gave women that right. She generally sided with the government in criminal cases, but supported civil rights issues. She was a model of judicial restraint, preferring legislative solutions to social problems, instead of judge-made solutions.

President Clinton nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993, and she was easily confirmed. Her tenure on the High Court has been consistent with her service on the court of appeals. She has remained a judicial moderate with a strong emphasis on protecting civil rights. In united states v. virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 116 S. Ct. 2264, 135 L. Ed. 2d 735 (1996), Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion, which ordered the all-male Virginia Military Institute (VMI) to admit women or give up state funding. This decision also affected the Citadel, South Carolina's state-run all-male military school, and was a decisive blow to state-sponsored sex discrimination. Ginsburg rejected a proposal by VMI that it establish a separate military program for women. Such a program would be unequal, Ginsburg concluded, because it would rely on stereotypes about women and would not provide an equal education. She stated,"Women seeking and fit for a VMI-quality education cannot be offered anything less under the state's obligation to afford them genuinely equal protection."

Ginsburg has written for the majority in nearly one hundred opinions. One of her most far-reaching opinions was the intellectual property case of New York Times v. Tasini, 533 U.S. 483, 121 L. Ed. 2d 2381, 150 L. Ed. 2d 500 (2001). The Tasini opinion upheld a 1999 federal appeals court decision, which found that the New York Times Company and its codefendants had violated the copyrights of Tasini and five other freelance writers by reproducing their work online on their own websites, and through subscription databases such as Lexis-Nexis. Ginsburg's opinion states that publishing the same article in print and on electronic formats are separate publishing events for purposes of copyright law. Consequently, the authors should be compensated for each publishing event. The suit was brought forward by freelance writers who complained that their work was posted on the internet without their permission and, in some cases, earned extra revenue for publishers who sold access to the archived material.

Ginsburg also has contributed nearly 40 dissenting opinions, including a strong dissent to the majority opinion in bush v. gore, 531 U.S. 98, 121 S. Ct. 525, 148 L. Ed. 2d 388 (2000). The Bush opinion played a primary role in determining the outcome of the 2000 election in favor of george w. bush. Ginsburg's dissent in the Bush case rested on the notion that "federal courts [should] defer to state high courts' interpretations of their state's own law."

Justice Ginsburg holds honorary degrees from a number of institutions, including American University, Hebrew Union College, Amherst College, and Georgetown University. She has also been an active bar association member, serving on the Board of Editors of the american bar association journal, and as secretary, board member, and executive committee member of the American Bar Foundation. In addition, Ginsburg is a well-respected author and editor, writing on such topics as conflict of laws, constitutional law, and civil procedure.

"The greatest figures of the american judiciary have been independent thinking individuals with open but not empty minds—individuals willing to listen and learn."
—Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In 1999, at the age of 66, Justice Ginsburg was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. She received radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and underwent surgery in September 1999. Upon recovery, she returned to her duties on the bench.

further readings

Baugh, Joyce Ann, et al. 1994. "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Preliminary Assessment." University of Toledo Law Review 26 (fall).

Biskupic, Joan. 1999. "A High Court of Recovery." Washington Post (September 20).

Kay, Herma Hill. 1999."Equal Treatment: In the 1970s, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sought to Do Something Radical: Level the Legal Playing Field for Men and Women." American Lawyer 21 (December).

Kushner, James A. 2003. "Introducing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Predicting the Performance of a Ginsburg Court." Southwestern University Law Review 32 (spring).

O'Connor, Karen, and Barbara Palmer. 2001. "The Clinton Clones: Ginsburg, Breyer, and the Clinton Legacy." Judicature 84 (March-April).

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Ginsburg, Ruth Bader

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Born: March 15, 1933
Brooklyn, New York

American Supreme Court justice and lawyer

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second woman ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court and is known as the legal architect of the modern women's movement. She, more than any other person, pointed out that many laws encouraged gender discrimination; that is, they led to better treatment of men than women instead of guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities to all as was intended by the United States Constitution.

The search for equality in the law begins

Ruth Joan Bader was born March 15, 1933, to Nathan and Cecelia (Amster) Bader in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother was a role model in Ruth's life at a time when women had to fight for the privileges and rights that men took for granted. "I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire [seek to reach a goal] and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons," the New York Times quoted Ginsburg as saying of her mother after she was named to the Supreme Court. Cecelia Bader had once hoped to attend college but instead went to work in a garment factory to help pay for her brother's education. This was a sacrifice many women made in the early decades of the 1900s.

Ruth Bader loved to read and learn. Her interest in the law started in grade school, when she wrote articles for her school newspaper about the Magna Carta, a document that represented the first step toward freedom in English-speaking lands. She attended Cornell University, where she graduated with high honors in government. She then married Martin Ginsburg, a law student. She went on to Harvard Law School, where she served on the Law Review.

In the male-dominated world of law, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was told that she and her eight female classmatesout of a class of five-hundredwere taking the places of qualified males. She transferred to Columbia University after two years when her husband, who would become one of the country's top tax lawyers, took a job in New York. Here she continued to encounter gender discrimination; although she graduated at the top of her class, law firms, which normally welcome talented graduates, refused to hire her.

Teaching and practicing law

After working for District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri in New York, Ginsburg joined the faculty of Rutgers University, where, in order to keep her job, she wore overly large clothes to hide the fact that she was carrying her second child. She was only the second female professor at Rutgers and one of only twenty women law professors in the country. In 1972, after teaching a course on women and the law at Harvard University, she was appointed the first female faculty member in the law school's history.

Ginsburg also served as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization that works to protect and ensure the constitutional rights of all persons and groups. She devoted most of her attention to women's rights. A former ACLU colleague was quoted as telling the Legal Times, "We were young and very green. She had it all so carefully thought through. She knew exactly what she needed to do." In a 1973 case before the Supreme Court, Ginsburg successfully argued against a federal law that gave more housing and medical benefits to male members of the armed services than to females. However, she did not argue only cases in which women were the victims of discrimination. She believed that the law must give equal rights to all groups. For instance, she convinced the court that a portion of the Social Security Act (a law that provides protection for people against loss of income due to old age, disability, or death) favored women over men because it gave certain benefits to widows but not to widowers.

After winning five of the six cases she argued before the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was named a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by President Jimmy Carter (1924). She brought a cautious, thoughtful style to the court, and most people were pleased with her performance. Conservatives, who for the most part like things to stay as they are, agreed with her view that courts should only interpret laws and leave their creation to politicians. On the other hand, liberals, or people who are usually more open to change and reform, were pleased with her votes supporting broadcasting access to the courts.

Supreme Court justice

With the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White (1917) in 1993, President Bill Clinton (1946) wanted a replacement with the intellect and the political skills to deal with the Supreme Court's top conservatives. He chose Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Court observers praised her commitment to the details of the law, her intelligent questioning of lawyers arguing before her, and her talent for using calm and sensible arguments to win over her fellow judges.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to approve the choice of Ginsburg were unusually friendly. Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (1942) said, according to the Boston Globe, that Ginsburg had "already helped to change the meaning of equality in our nation." Ginsburg was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of ninety-six to three, becoming the 107th Supreme Court Justice and its second female jurist after Sandra Day O'Connor (1930). She was also the first justice to be named by a Democratic president since 1967. President Clinton said in a statement quoted by the Detroit Free Press, "I am confident that she will be an outstanding addition to the court and will serve with distinction for many years."

Women in the judiciary

Since taking office, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has written thirty-five significant opinions (formal statements written by a judge), two important concurring (agreeing) opinions, and three selected dissenting (opposing) opinions. Ginsburg was seen as a stronger voice in favor of gender equality, the rights of workers, and the separation of church and state (the belief that neither the church nor the government should have any influence over the other) than many of the other judges on the Supreme Court. In 1999, she won the American Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award for her contributions to gender equality and civil rights.

As more and more women became judges throughout the country, Justice Ginsburg gave former president Carter credit for changing the judicial landscape for women forever. Appearing at a program entitled Woman and the Bench at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, she said, "He appointed women in numbers such as there would be no going back." Ruth Bader Ginsburg deserves equal credit for surviving and fighting through the discrimination of the past to help bring about change.

For More Information

Ayer, Eleanor H. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Fire and Steel on the Supreme Court. New York: Dillon Press, 1994.

Bayer, Linda N. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2000

Bredeson, Carmen. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Supreme Court Justice. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1995.

Italia, Bob, and Paul Deegan. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Minneapolis: Abdo & Daughters, 1994.

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Ginsburg, Ruth (Joan) Bader

Ruth (Joan) Bader Ginsburg, 1933–, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1993–), b. Brooklyn, N.Y. A graduate (1954) of Cornell, she attended Harvard Law School, then transferred to Columbia Law School, graduating in 1959. She clerked in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, taught at Rutgers Law School (1963–72), and became (1972) the first woman tenured professor at Columbia. During the 1970s, as general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union's Women's Rights Project, she argued a series of cases before the Supreme Court that strengthened constitutional safeguards of sexual equality; she has been called the "Thurgood Marshall of women's rights." In 1980 President Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where she displayed a belief in judicial restraint and took a position between sharply defined liberal and conservative factions. Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993 to replace Byron White, Ginsburg has continued to act as a centrist, eschewing judicial activism.

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