Ginsburg, (Joan) Ruth Bader 1933-

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GINSBURG, (Joan) Ruth Bader 1933-

PERSONAL: Born March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, NY; daughter of Nathan (a furrier) and Celia (Amster) Bader; married Martin David Ginsburg (a professor), June 23, 1954; children: Jane Carol, James Steven.

Education: Cornell University, B.A., 1954; Harvard University, graduate study, 1956-58; Columbia University, LL.B., 1959. Religion: Jewish.

ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Supreme Court of the United States, 1 First St. NE, Washington, DC 20543.

CAREER: Justice, educator, and attorney. Admitted to the Bar of New York State, 1959; New York District Court, law clerk, 1959-61; Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, NJ, assistant professor, 1963-66, associate professor, 1966-69, professor of law, 1969-72; Columbia University, New York, NY, professor of law, 1972-81; admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia, 1975; U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, justice, 1980-93; U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC, associate justice, 1993—. American Civil Liberties Union, New York, NY, general counsel, 1973-80, member of national board of directors, 1974-80.

MEMBER: American Bar Association, American Law Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, American Foreign Law Association (member of board of directors, beginning 1970; vice president, beginning 1973), Women's Law Fund (member of board of directors), Association of American Law Schools (member of executive committee, 1972), Association of Bar of the City of New York (member of executive committee, beginning 1974), Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi.

AWARDS, HONORS: Honorary LL.D. from University of Lund, 1969; American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, 1982—.


(With Anders Bruzelius) Civil Procedure in Sweden, M. Nijhoff (the Hague, Netherlands), 1965.

(Translator and author of introduction with Anders Bruzelius) The Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure, F. B. Rothman (South Hackensack, NJ), 1968.

(Editor) Business Regulation in the Common-Market Nations, Volume I, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1969.

A Selective Survey of English-Language Studies on Scandinavian Law, F. B. Rothman (South Hackensack, NJ), 1970.

(With Herma Hill Kay and Kenneth M. Davidson) Text, Cases, and Materials on Sex-based Discrimination ("American Casebook" series), West Publishing (St. Paul, MN), 1974, selections published as Text, Cases, and Materials on Constitutional Aspects of Sex-based Discrimination, 1974.

(Author of foreword) Clare Cushman, editor, Supreme Court Decisions and Women's Rights: Milestones to Equality, CQ Press (Washington, DC), 2001.

Coauthor of The Legal Status of Women under Federal Law: Report to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, 1974. Contributor to books, including International Cooperation in Litigation, edited by Hans Smit, M. Nijhoff (The Hague, Netherlands), 1965. Contributor to law journals, including Journal of Family Law, American Journal of Comparative Law, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vital Speeches of the Day, International Lawyer, American Bar Association Journal, and Harvard Law Review. Member of editorial board, American Journal of Comparative Law, 1966-72, and American Bar Association Journal, 1972-75.

Ginsburg's papers are archived at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

SIDELIGHTS: Key events in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life helped establish her as a strong advocate for civil liberties and women's rights. President Bill Clinton's first Supreme Court appointee in 1993, Ginsburg was also the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Her life and experiences both in and out of her career as an attorney and educator fueled her efforts to help American women gain equal social and legal rights while also shaping her moderate political views.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, 1933, Ginsburg is the second daughter of Nathan and Celia Bader. Her older sister, Marilyn, died at the age of eight, before Ruth started school. The Baders lived in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, a working-class neighborhood of Jewish, Italian, and Irish immigrants. Ginsburg's mother instilled in Ruth the value of education through frequent trips to the library, and stressed the importance of attending college.

After high school, Ginsburg attended Cornell University, where she met her future husband, Martin Ginsburg. An excellent student, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated as the top woman in her class. Married the year she graduated, Ginsburg decided to attend law school—Martin Ginsburg had already enrolled at Harvard Law School and Ruth planned to follow suit—but those plans were derailed when Martin was drafted into the U.S. Army. The couple moved to Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, where they had their first child. Returning to Harvard after two years in Oklahoma, Ruth Ginsburg was admitted to Harvard Law School. In her second year of law school Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and during his radiation therapy and surgery she tended to their daughter as well keeping both her and Martin current in their classwork.

At Harvard Ginsburg first encountered the hostility towards women that she would battle throughout her career, when a professor reportedly asked the nine women in Ginsburg's graduating class how it felt to take the places of more-deserving men. Undaunted by such negativity, Ginsburg excelled at her studies and won a coveted position on the Harvard Law Review.

Following his graduation, Martin Ginsburg accepted a position in New York City and Ruth transferred to Columbia Law School, where she earned a position on the Columbia Law Review and graduated first in her class in 1959. Despite this Ginsburg once again faced gender-based hostility and found difficulty obtaining a clerkship, but was hired by district court judge Eddie L. Palmieri. In 1961 she joined Columbia's comparative law project, traveling to Sweden to study that country's judicial system. Ginsburg's research resulted in a translation of Swedish judicial proceedings, as well as the book Civil Procedure in Sweden. In 1963 she joined the faculty of Rutgers University Law School and also worked as an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

At the ACLU Ginsburg became the first director of that organization's Women's Rights project, for which she litigated sex-discrimination cases. In her capacity as director, she argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that involved gender-based discrimination. Recognizing the Court's gradual shift to a moderate stance, Ginsburg selected cases highlighting gender inequality that had male rather than female plaintiffs, and won five of the six cases she argued.

In 1972 Ginsburg became the first woman to receive tenure as a professor at Columbia Law School. Through her accomplishments as a teacher and her success with the ACLU, she came to the attention of President Jimmy Carter, who appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. As a justice, Ginsburg became known for being conscientious and fair-minded. In 1993, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White resigned, President Bill Clinton became the first Democratic president to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in over a quarter century. He chose Ginsburg, calling her the "Thurgood Marshall of women's rights." She was confirmed to the seat by a Senate vote of 97-3. Although she is considered a liberal, Ginsburg often votes with her conservative bench-mates to promote judicial restraint.



Breedson, Carmen, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Supreme Court Justice, Enslow Publishers (Springfield, NJ), 1995.


Affilia, spring, 1994, Carol H. Meyer, "The First Feminist Activist I Ever Met," p. 85.

American Bar Association Journal, October, 1993, Stephanie B. Goldberg, "The Second Woman Justice: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Talks Candidly about a Changing Society," p. 40.

Life, May 1, 1999, p. 52.

National Law Journal, August 16, 1993, Thomas E. Baker, "Discomfiting Glimpses of (Hopefully) Old Ways," p. 15; October 11, 1993, David Sive, "Will Justice Ginsburg Color Court Green?," p. 18.

New York University Law Review, April, 2000, Martha Craig Daughtrey, "Women and the Constitution: Where We Are at the End of the Century," pp. 1-25.


Oyez Project, (September 1, 2003), "Ruth Bader Ginsburg."*